Parents with multiple children may leave their assets to their offspring by including them in a last will and testament. However, the parents may not divide assets equally. The parents may have compelling reasons why they are leaving unequal inheritances to their beneficiaries. When an estate planner does not wish to leave heirs equal amounts, communication with all parties is highly recommended to avoid litigation in a California Probate Court.
Unequal asset division
A testator may distribute assets unequally when they have valid concerns about a beneficiary’s abilities or behaviors. If there’s a business involved, one or more children might lack the education, experience or motivation to manage the business effectively. So, they might receive a small minority interest in the business, or they may receive nothing at all.
Other concerns might arise about the beneficiary’s ability to manage money. Leaving the person a modest amount can be one option to deal with the concern, although establishing a trust to manage the beneficiary’s assets can be an option that leaves less acrimony.
The option exists not to leave one or more beneficiaries anything. Estrangement may be one reason for disinheritance, but a person can be disinherited for any reason by an estate planner. Such decisions may lead to conflicts in probate court.
Communicating estate planning decisions
Estate planning need not occur in complete secrecy. Informing beneficiaries about decisions regarding unequal bequeathments and providing reasons for the decision may prevent animosity between surviving relatives. Effective communication could reduce the chances of someone contesting the will.
An upset relative may still contest the will, but there must be compelling reasons and evidence for the court to rule in the person’s favor. Proper estate planning might curtail any potential to contest the estate plan.