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Estate planning and the question of fairness

Fair does not always mean equal. Parents learn this lesson while their children are young. It quickly becomes apparent that each child has their own personality and may have different needs. This can translate to different forms of parenting styles for each child.

As our children age, and we begin to map out our estate plans, we may realize that the need to have an individualized parenting plan for each child does not end when they become adults. It may soon become apparent that an equal distribution of assets is not the fair choice. Here are two factors to consider when attempting to put together a fair estate plan.

#1: Special Needs.

Those who have an estate plan that will include leaving gifts for a child with special needs must tread carefully with their bequests. What may seem like a generous gift could result in the disqualification of the ability of the child to receive much needed government aid. Careful planning, often in the form of putting together a special needs trust, can result in both a generous gift and continued government aid.

#2: Naming an Executor and trustee

Another question involves who will manage the estate. When it comes to choosing an executor, or, if you have a trust, choosing a trustee, one child may have more experience than the others. Those who are putting together an estate plan may also choose to use a professional to manage the estate to avoid any family conflict that may come with naming one child over the others.

In general, it is not wise to set the duties up in a co-trustee relationship. This can lead to discord, arguments and potentially end in costly legal battles amongst the beneficiaries.

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