More parents leaving children unequal inheritance

On Behalf of | Jan 28, 2016 | Blog

Parents in Nevada do not always leave their children equal shares of their estate when they die. In fact, unequal bequests have been on the rise in recent years, as more and more parents choose to leave one child a greater portion of their assets than their siblings. Researchers who conducted the Health and Retirement Study found that the percentage of parents with wills who were leaving unequal bequests increased from 16 percent to 35 percent from 1995 to 2010.

Researchers carried out the study by surveying 26,000 people every two years throughout the study period. The survey participants were believed to be a representative sample of American parents. Over 21,000 of the parents had multiple children, and over 5,000 had genetic children as well as stepchildren. Analysts say the trend towards unequal bequests might be related to the increasing number of families with stepchildren.

Several factors seem to affect the way that parents treat genetic children and stepchildren in their wills. According to the study, a parent who has not had contact with one of their biological children for longer than a year is around 40 percent less likely to leave an equal bequest to the child. Stepchildren are usually treated the same as genetic children as long as the parent has had a relationship with them for more than 10 years.

When a parent has multiple children from different marriages as well as stepchildren, the parent may decide to leave unequal bequests in their will. A parent who has ex-stepchildren from a previous marriage may want to leave those children a gift that does not equal their genetic children’s inheritance. To ensure that a will leaves clear instructions for the dispersal of assets to all of the children included in it, a parent may want to work with an estate planning attorney.