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How to divide an estate among adult children

Individuals in Florida who are estate planning might wonder how they should divide up their assets among their children. For example, if their children have different income levels and needs, they might wonder whether they should leave less for the more secure child and more for the child who may need it more.

However, experts say that dividing assets in this way can be a minefield. One issue is that such decisions might be made based on situations that are not permanent. A job loss, divorce or other unpredictable catastrophic event may result in a child who is well-off becoming less so. By the same token, a child who is not doing well could have a change in fortune.

Parents who do insist on leaving different amounts to different children in their wills are urged to discuss it with their children ahead of time. Another suggestion from experts is that parents who are dividing their assets unequally may want to consider balancing that by leaving family heirlooms that have sentimental value to children who are receiving a smaller portion of the estate.

Experts also advise against making children executors or trustees. This leaves a child in a potentially contentious situation. Even if siblings seem to get along well, a death can lead to conflict, and an adult child may not be the best person to manage that conflict.

An individual who is estate planning could benefit from discussing these and other issues with an attorney. An attorney might have seen a number of different scenarios and be able to caution an individual about pitfalls and suggest creative solutions to problems. For example, an individual may want to know how to best provide for a disabled adult child or how to ensure that their will will not be challenged.

Source: Millionaire Corner, "Dividing the Estate: Treat Your Children Well," Kent McDill, March 12, 2015

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