It is possible for a parent to leave his or her entire estate to a single child instead of dividing it equally among all the children. However, it is also possible for the heir to give a portion of that inheritance to his or her siblings. One method is to disclaim the inheritance within nine months, which could negate gift taxes if money were given to other parties. An issue to consider using that strategy is that the disclaimed inheritance may go that person’s child instead.
It may also be worthwhile to consider annual and lifetime gift exemptions that apply even if an inheritance is not disclaimed. The annual exemption is $14,000 per person per year while the lifetime exemption is currently $5.45 million and is indexed for inflation. Therefore, it may be possible to simply give the money to others without any tax hit at all.
Another good option to consider is making an agreement with other siblings or family members to alter the amount of assets that each receive. Assuming that these people are actually in the will and were not explicitly disinherited, a private agreement among successors is perfectly legal. This may enable each sibling to receive an equal share without the need to worry about gift taxes or other issues that may arise when using other strategies.
Proper will planning today may help avoid legal issues after an individual passes away. It may be possible to consult with an attorney to review a will and make sure it meets an individual’s needs both today and in the future. If a change in circumstances or a major life event occurs such as a death or marriage, it may be a good idea to have the will reviewed by legal counsel.