Q&A: Pitfalls of unequal will distributions

Dear Liz: You’ve written that when writing their wills, parents should be careful about leaving unequal distributions to their children. What wasn’t mentioned was that a person could have a “good” child and a “bad” one. The “bad one” has never done a thing for the parent, such as inviting her to the child’s home at Thanksgiving or Christmas, and only visits the parent in the summer when the parent just happens to live at the beach. The “good” one is very attentive and visits the parent even in winter, and so on. What is your thinking in inheritance in this case?

Answer: It’s your money, and there’s no one right way to divide an estate. However, it’s disturbing that your assessment of your children seems to be based solely on how much attention you get.

It’s possible one child acts more selfishly or thoughtlessly than the other. It’s also possible that you are difficult to please, and one child understandably limits the time she spends trying to do so.

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  1. Dan Haueter says

    Pitfalls of unequal distributions
    My widowed aunt was from El Salvador and when you died with two children she left more of her estate to her eldest son than to her daughter. I perceive it as sort of cultural thing to prefer the male, but there was some rationality to it in that the son was divorced with two male children and hurting financially, while the daughter was in an intact marriage with 2 daughters and well off financially. Nevertheless, it created a rift between the two siblings that took years to resolve. I think my aunt might have acted differently has she known this might happen.