Estate planning often entails someone setting aside resources for the next generation. An individual may choose to leave property for their children and grandchildren. Oftentimes, families expect that a testator will divide resources evenly among beneficiaries or at least leave those in the same relationship with the testator the same type of inheritance. However, that is not always the best arrangement.
Perhaps somebody has invested tens of thousands of dollars to support one child but also has children who achieved success without the same degree of financial support. Maybe they have a grandchild from whom they are estranged. A history of addiction or criminal behavior might lead to someone to limit what they leave for one member of their family when compared with the rest of their beneficiaries.
How can those planning to leave unequal bequests in New York achieve that goal?
They need to be very specific in their documents
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when disinheriting one family member or leaving them far less than others is to simply omit someone’s name in the documents or in a specific section of the paperwork. The party with the reduced inheritance may then bring a challenge in probate court by raising the claim that the testator made a mistake or oversight.
It is important to explicitly detail what one intends to do with their property and to include those receiving less or nothing by name in their documents. The more thorough and detailed someone is when describing their wishes, the harder it will be for those expecting an inheritance to allege that a smaller inheritance was a mistake or oversight.
They should address their choices with their family
Those who feel shocked and disappointed by the contents of an estate plan are more likely than others to take the matter to probate court. Although it can be uncomfortable to talk with loved ones about the inheritance they will receive, doing so is often a smart move.
People may grow to accept the reality of an uneven inheritance when given a chance to prepare themselves. Additionally, it will be harder for them to claim that the inheritance they received was a last-minute change or a deviation from what the testator promised them. When the entire family is aware of someone’s actual wishes, their will or other testamentary documents will be less likely to do damage to the family unit after their death.
Putting together authoritative and thorough estate planning paperwork is important for anyone whose intentions may contradict the expectations of their family members, such as those leaving unequal inheritances for different people. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to better ensure that one’s wishes are respected, whatever those wishes happen to be.