You do not have to give equal bequests to all of your heirs. For example, a parent with $300,000 and three children does not have to leave $100,000 to each person. If they wanted, they could leave all $300,000 to the same individual, or they could simply divide things up in another unequal manner. This is known as using unequal bequests.
You know that you can use these, but should you? You need to consider the pros and cons.
What are the benefits?
There can be benefits, depending on the situation. First off, maybe you have an heir and you’re worried that they will waste the money you leave them, so you don’t want to leave them as much as your more responsible heirs. Unequal bequests can preserve your wealth. Another issue could be the opposite: Maybe one heir has a lot of financial security and income of their own, while the others do not. You want to leave more to those who need it more.
It can cause disputes
The biggest issue with using unequal bequests is that it’s one of the top reasons for estate disputes. In many cases, children expect things to be fair, and they believe that you wanted things to be equal. If they don’t get an equal bequest, they may challenge the will. They could allege that undue influence was used to manipulate you into writing the will the way that you did, for instance, or they may even claim that the other heirs made the will and it is fraudulent. Regardless of the specific reasons that they bring up, you have to know that doing this just makes a dispute more likely.
That certainly is not to say you shouldn’t use unequal bequests. You just need to carefully consider the ramifications of all of your decisions as you sift through your legal options.