The Listen to Lawrence Letter: Do I have to leave assets to my children equally?
June 15, 2021
Dear Clients and Friends:
MY THOUGHTS ON EQUAL VS. EQUITABLE
In today’s LISTEN TO LAWRENCE LETTER I would like to discuss a topic that comes up a lot with my clients: DO I HAVE TO LEAVE ASSETS TO MY CHILDREN EQUALLY?
Of course, the legal answer is NO! You have the absolute legal right to leave your assets among your children in any way you want. In fact, you can completely disinherit one or more or all of your children. But should you?
Take the case of the wealthy child vs. the poor child. Should you take the position that the wealthy child doesn’t need it and the poor child does? It could certainly make a bigger difference in the life of the poorer child.
Should it matter why the poor child is poor? Bad decisions in life? Got divorced? Doesn’t own a home? Not as smart? Followed their passion but their job just pays less? Is disabled?
Clearly, all of these factors need to be taken into account.
But you love your children equally, right? (well maybe)…or at least you want to appear to love them equally. What will happen to their relationship if you favor one over the other? “Mom always loved you more!” Will this feed into a lifetime of resentments? I have seen an equitable instead of equal distribution irreparably destroy families. But, I have also seen it work, especially with good communication.
And why punish the successful child or reward the inefficient one? Is this further enabling a less successful child?
I am trying to just raise the subject here without coming down one way or the other. My job is to get you thinking about all of this. My job is sometimes to be a psychologist/social worker, as well as a lawyer.
HOWEVER, MY GENERAL ADVICE IS TO TREAT YOUR CHILDREN EQUALLY…….UNLESS…..THERE IS A REALLY GOOD REASON NOT TO!
I hope this helps! Please forward this information to your friends and relatives to share these informative answers to some very commonly asked questions.
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As always, please send me your questions. If you are thinking about it, others are probably too, so my answers will no doubt help you and many others.
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Until next time,
peace, health and happiness,
Lawrence Eric Davidow