Fair estate planning does not necessarily mean equal estate planning.
Let me explain.
You have multiple children.
As children they were obsessed with fairness.
Sister has a bigger cookie?
It is not fair.
Brother gets a later bedtime?
Still not fair.
According to a recent The Press Enterprise article titled “Why ‘fair’ and ‘equal’ aren’t always the same,” your children may not lose this impulse as adults when it comes to estate planning.
In reality, equal treatments may not be best.
You could give everyone equal responsibility in executing your estate or serving as agents if you are incapacitated.
Too many voices could lead to costly stalemates when it comes to making decisions or authorizing actions.
Your children have different strengths.
Take their weaknesses and strengths into consideration when making your estate plan.
If you do choose one child over another, be sure to explain your decision to them.
This way, everyone can understand your reasoning and not assume you were playing favorites.
If this is a concern for you, you may want select a trusted friend or professional rather than a family member to execute your will or administer your trust.
If you choose a friend, be sure the individual will be physically able and willing to manage your estate.
What if you choose the professional route?
Be sure the organization has experience and a good reputation when it comes to administering trusts and estates.
Financial institutions are, after all, made up of people and people have personalities.
Some are stuffy and others are friendly.
In the end, either way the institution you select must be responsive and competent.
Not sure the best route for your unique circumstances?
Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to determine the best solution for your situation.
Whatever you elect to do, I strongly recommend sharing your estate planning decisions (and reasons behind them) with your children to negate hard feelings.
It is only fair.
Reference: The Press Enterprise (Sep. 14, 2019) “Why ‘fair’ and ‘equal’ aren’t always the same”