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When it comes to deciding how to leave property to your children, the clearest choice is to divide everything into equal shares. That is the straightforward choice when all your children are doing equally well.

But if not – if, for example, one of your children is a starving artist with mouths to feed and your other, childless, offspring has made millions on Wall Street – the temptation is to leave more to him than to her.

That decision, however, can have consequences. There’s a good chance that your wealthy child might feel hurt. Favoring one child over another has a symbolic meaning. You don’t want to leave behind disappointment and resentment.

Also, estate planning is about considering the long term. Even if your wealthy child has no children of their own now, they may have them in the future. If you leave them nothing, both they and their children will have nothing to keep your memory alive, or worse, you will be resented long after you are gone.

Moreover, these days anyone’s financial situation can take a sudden turn for the worse.  Illness, injury, or a natural disaster can strike. Marriages can split. Investment decisions might fail. Assets can be lost or stolen. Credit may dry up. While hopefully none of these gloomy misfortunes will befall your wealthy child, it’s wiser to provide your wealthy child with some cushion.

If you still want to leave your artist child more than your wealthy child, sit down with your children and explain why you’re doing that. Even if your wealthy child might be unhappy to hear it, at least they would have less reason to blame your artist child later. And you never know. We have seen people in your wealthy child’s position freely agree. That love and generosity, on the more-advantaged child’s part, can make everybody happy.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your own situation in a confidential setting, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can get in touch with the firm by clicking here to book a complimentary consultation, emailing us at [email protected], or by dialing us up at (212) 920-6371.

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