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Should Beneficiaries Always Be Treated Equally In An Estate Plan?


It would seem practical to think that the best way to put together an estate plan would be with completely equal fairness. When you name beneficiaries and individuals you cherish and love, they should all be treated the same. It would be unfair to give much more to one beneficiary than the other. However, in many cases, determining who gets assets and wealth and how much each party will inherit is not so cut and dry.

Due to the chaos and unpredictable nature of life, how one person’s life circumstances pan out could be different from another. Even for siblings in the same household, with the same parents and advantages and disadvantages, the life outcomes are unlikely to be the same. As a result, how you treat and have a relationship with one of your children could easily be much different than what you have with another. When you are putting together your estate plan, there is much to consider, including how to maybe not equally but equitably divide up your estate.

For residents in Florida who need assistance with either establishing or updating an estate plan, The Villages, Florida estate planning attorneys at Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group, offer experienced guidance and support.

When Does it Make Sense to Leave Beneficiaries Unequal Assets?

Typically, if you want things to be clear and equal for all beneficiaries, you divide up your wealth, so everyone gets the same shares. However, there are many situations where this is not the fairest or most proper way to divide your estate. And, if you decide that you will consider many aspects of each beneficiary to determine who gets what and how much, it is a good idea to talk with your loved ones about your process and thoughts ahead of time.

Putting together an estate plan when you are of sound mind and in good health can help you protect your interests and wishes after you pass on. It also makes it much easier to be transparent with your intentions and reasoning for how you constructed your end-of-life documents. Keeping things as open as possible and allowing for civil discussion in life reduces the chances of surprises down the road. When your beneficiaries are a part of your estate planning process they will know what to expect. They will also know why there is an unequal division of assets. This may reduce the chances that there will be disputes between each other and litigation over your estate.

Two examples of times when you may want to provide more or less for particular beneficiaries include:

  1. If one of your beneficiaries received much more financial support when you were alive than others, you might want to leave less for them to account for this.
  2. Maybe you have a child who cannot take care of themselves without assistance and support due to physical or cognitive issues, or both. They may require a more significant portion of your wealth.

These are not the only two instances that may warrant an unequal share of your estate, but they illustrate why it may be appropriate. The important thing is to keep communications open so that no one feels they are being treated with malice or unreasonably.

Speak to a Florida Estate Planning Attorney Today

No one wants their beneficiaries to be fighting after their death. And if it could be possible to be proactive with actions to reduce the chances of that happening, doing what is necessary makes the most sense.

For residents of The Villages, Florida, the Florida estate planning lawyers at Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group welcome you to call to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation at 800-743-9732.

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