At its core, a Will is a tool to assure the continuity of families by smoothly moving assets between generations. Viewed this way, it only makes sense that those involved should openly communicate to achieve a clear understanding of who is in the Will, why it is distributed as it is, and why any limitations or conditions have been put in it.
Parents have a right to decide conditions and distributions of inheritance and have no obligation to justify their decisions. But if they choose to explain their reasoning, their children will benefit. Consider choosing between even and uneven distribution between children.
Children normally expect that assets will simply be split evenly between them. While this is the most common distribution, a parent may have reasons for uneven distribution. A common situation is adjusting inheritance based on relative financial need. In this case, a financially successful child may feel slighted and may take these feeling out on a less successful sibling.
The purpose of communication between parent and child is not to debate if the method of distribution is fair or not, but to create understanding and acceptance of the decision. Doing this while the parent is alive provides the disappointed child an opportunity to process the situation and ask questions. This in turn focuses any disappointment towards the parent and away from a sibling – possibly preserving the relationship.
Money and family can be a messy combination. Keeping unnecessary secrets and creating big reveals may delay facing problems, but this will normally create unnecessary hard feelings and conflict. A modest amount of open communication can prevent these problems. Please contact us for assistance in structuring an estate plan that benefits your family.