Should You Treat Your Children Equally?

By Sabrina Winters

We have a running joke in my family that my youngest sibling (my brother) has always been the favorite.  Maybe it is because he was the baby in an Italian family or maybe it was because he was the only son.  All kidding aside, I know my parents love us each equally.  They do love us each differently, but that's ok.

In North Carolina there is no statute or rule that says a parent has to leave their estate equally to each child.  Actually, there is no statute or rule that as a parent you have to leave your children anything for that matter.

What are the reasons why a parent would choose to leave more to one child and less to the other?

  1. The child that receives less may have been economically supported by the parents more than the other children.
  2. One child may simply be more well off and able to support him or herself than the others whom may need a little more help financially.
  3. Maybe one of the children has a hole in his or her pocket and spends every dime they have.  (If this is the case, I would suggest maybe a Trust to manage and hold this child's assets. However, that's another blog for another time!)
  4. Perhaps one child has supported and cared for the parents more than the other and the disparity is a way of thanking that child (or making a not so subtle point to the other!)

If a parent is going to decide to provide more for one over the other, what options are available?

  1. Provide that a certain percentage be left to each child (ex:  40% and 60%);
  2. Provide that a certain dollar amount be left to one and the remainder of the estate left to the other;
  3. Perhaps leaving the liquid assets equally and providing other tangible property to one over the other.

Whatever option is decided there should be a full discussion with your Charlotte estate planning attorney to really understand the reality of what may result when providing an unequal distribution.  It may be done by the parent with all good intentions and on paper look good.  But, it is super important to understand what dynamics between your children the disparity may create.

If you are considering a disparate distribution or moving forward with your estate plan, contact our office at 704-843-1446 and we would be glad to discuss your personal situation with you.

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