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Defining fairness during estate planning

When people in Ohio think about the future, deciding how to divvy up assets during an estate plan can be an emotionally challenging experience. It might be difficult to determine what kind of asset division makes for a fair distribution, and thoughts of avoiding future conflict among family members can weigh heavily on a person developing a plan. While fairness is a common goal during the estate planning process, it may be defined differently by different people.

For example, in the case of a hypothetical family with three adult children, some may consider that the fairest distribution is always a simple three-way split. However, others may consider the needs of grandchildren for future college educations, previous gifts or the relative needs of the siblings. If one child received a large monetary gift during the parents' lives, it may seem fair to reduce that child's gift in the will. In order to avoid future hard feelings and bitterness between different beneficiaries, open discussion during estate planning can help avoid unpleasant future surprises.

Sometimes, financially well-off children may feel hurt if their lesser-earning siblings receive a greater portion of their parents' estate as if they are being punished for their success and stability. On the other hand, an exceptionally wealthy adult child simply does not have the need for the funds that less well-off siblings may have. Some people may want to plan explicitly for grandchildren or great-grandchildren by setting up educational trusts or other bequests that focus specifically on funds for tuition and other college costs.

The process of drawing up a will and related estate documents like trusts and powers of attorney may be emotionally challenging, but it can also bring an important sense of peace of mind. An estate planning attorney may help people to work through their questions about the future and create documents that reflect their wishes accurately and effectively.

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