Fairness after helping adult child with money

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Q. I have three adult children. One has needed significant financial help over the years and I want to reflect that in my will so the two other children are not cheated out of what would have been a larger inheritance. How do I make it so in the end, via the inheritance, they’ve all received the same help from me – without hard feelings?
— Dad

A. We’re glad that you want to address this while you can.

What you’re referring to is an equitable inheritance – each child will receive what is fair based on their circumstances.

You can divide your estate using percentages, bequeathing a smaller percentage to the child who has received a disproportionate amount of financial help, said Alison Hall, a certified financial planner with Stonegate Wealth Management in Oakland.

If you decide to leave your estate in varying percentages, Hall recommends you discuss it with your children while you are alive to clear up any questions they may have – and to help mitigate the risk of litigation.

“An unequal division of assets may invite a lawsuit from the child who feels ‘cheated,’” she said. “In order to sue, they’ll need to have a valid reason, so it is important that your documents are drafted with a trustworthy attorney while you are of sound mind.”

Importantly, Hall said, you may want to consider a no-contest clause, which is wording that any heir who takes the will to court forfeits their inheritance or any bequests.

Email your questions to moc.p1571553651leHye1571553651noMJN1571553651@ksA1571553651.

This story was originally published on June 28, 2019.

NJMoneyHelp.com presents certain general financial planning principles and advice, but should never be viewed as a substitute for obtaining advice from a personal professional advisor who understands your unique individual circumstances.