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Should Children Receive an Equal Inheritance?

Whether children should receive an equal inheritance is a deeply personal and complex decision that depends on various factors, including your values, family dynamics, financial circumstances, and the unique needs and situations of your children. As a Folsom estate planning lawyer, I often times advise clients on how they should distribute their wealth and what I have experienced in my practice. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when making this decision:

  1. Fairness vs. Equality: While equal distribution is often seen as fair, fairness doesn’t always mean that each child receives an identical share. Fairness may involve taking into account different needs, financial circumstances, or contributions to the family.
  2. Financial Needs: Consider the individual financial needs of your children. For example, a child with a disability or substantial medical expenses may require more financial support than other siblings. Conversely, a child who is financially independent and successful may not need as much.
  3. Contributions: Evaluate the contributions each child has made to your family and your well-being. Contributions can be financial, such as assisting with caregiving or covering expenses, or non-financial, such as providing emotional support.
  4. Debts and Liabilities: Take into account any debts or liabilities that your children may have. If one child has substantial debts, you might choose to provide a larger share to help them achieve financial stability.
  5. Equalizing Gifts: You may consider making lifetime gifts or assisting children with major life expenses like education or a first home purchase to help equalize their financial situations before your passing.
  6. Business or Assets: If you have a family business or unique assets like a vacation home, consider how these assets will be managed and whether they should be divided equally among your children. The family business may not be suitable for all children.
  7. Minimizing Conflict: In some cases, unequal distributions can lead to disputes and strained family relationships. To minimize potential conflicts, open and honest communication with your children is crucial. Explaining your reasoning can help them understand your decisions.
  8. Trusts and Conditions: If you have specific conditions or requirements for the inheritance, such as using the funds for education or charitable giving, consider how these factors will affect the distribution.
  9. Legal Implications: Consult with an attorney to ensure that your estate plan complies with relevant laws and regulations. It’s important to execute a legally sound plan that accurately reflects your intentions.
  10. Personal Values: Your personal values, beliefs, and cultural background may influence your decision. Some individuals prioritize treating all children equally, while others may prioritize helping those in need.
  11. Periodic Review: Estate plans should be periodically reviewed and updated to reflect changes in your family, financial circumstances, and your own wishes. What is equitable today may not be in the future.


Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether children should receive an equal inheritance. The decision should be based on a thorough understanding of your family dynamics and the unique characteristics of each child. It’s important to approach this decision with sensitivity, transparency, and careful planning to achieve an outcome that you believe is equitable and in the best interests of your family. Seeking advice from an experienced estate planning attorney in Folsom or financial advisor who can help you create a plan that aligns with your goals will ensure that your wishes are carried out. If you have any questions about children’s inheritance, contact Thapar Law at 916-579-0605 or send us a message.

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