Assigning Assets in Your Estate Plan – Should It Be Fair or Equal?
In most cases, the assignment of assets to one heir is straightforward; you only need to determine a creative way to decrease the tax load. In contrast, assigning assets to multiple beneficiaries is generally complex. Not only do you have to decide how to increase the overall amount each person receives after their tax costs, but you must also discern whether to distribute the assets fairly or equally. What is the difference between these two options, and which one is most appropriate for your estate plan needs? Read on to find out.
Fair or Equal – What is the Difference?
While some people use the terms fair and equal interchangeably, the two terms are quite different from one another. To split things equally means to give everyone the same amount, but fair distribution is not always equal. Sometimes, it may appear that one heir has “more,” but the truth is that they have more for a very particular reason.
Determining What Constitutes “Fair”
Fair can mean something different to everyone. For example, children who see another child with more food or a later bedtime might cry, “Not fair!” – even if the other child is older. Fair is much like this; it determines what is appropriate to give in terms of responsibility or amounts by weighing various factors. Asset fairness is no different.
As an example, say you have a child that has stayed nearby to help you with all your needs. They have gone with you to every doctor’s appointment. They have regularly visited to clean, go grocery shopping, or cook for you. Then you have another child – no less loved or special, mind you, but they have been busy managing their own family. After college, they took a job in the city, married and are raising children. Truth be told, you cannot remember the last time they visited. You, as their parent, know this is not due to a lack of gratefulness or a lack of love or caring. It is just that they pursued a different path. However, it does present you with a difficult decision, does it not?
While, on the one hand, you want both of your children to know that you loved them equally, you have one that made the extra effort to care for you as you have aged. You want to show your gratitude, or maybe you just want to pay them for all the time and effort they put into making sure you were okay each day. Whatever the case, you feel a higher asset distribution is just “fair.” There is nothing wrong with this. It is also not the only way to determine fair. You know your heirs best, and you know what they should receive. Go with your instinct.
How Our Fremont Wills and Trusts Attorney Can Help
At Louis J. Willett, Attorney at Law, we understand just how complex asset division can be. It is why we offer comprehensive and personalized services that are designed to suit your needs. Learn more about how our Fremont wills and trusts attorney can assist you with your estate plan. Call 510-791-2244 and schedule your free consultation with us today.