What’s the best way to split your assets unequally between heirs?

One of your children has a thriving career in Minnesota, but the other is struggling to make ends meet. However, the child with fewer resources frequently spends time with you and is attentive to your needs, and since your spouse died, that attention has made a world of difference. You feel like leaving that child more of your assets is fair. But can you do it in a way that keeps your wishes from being challenged once you are gone and can’t defend them?

According to Kiplinger, you have the right and the ability to bequeath your children’s inheritance in whatever way you feel is best. A will is one option, but the probate process typically takes months, and this often gives a beneficiary enough time to challenge your wishes. The probate process also allows estate taxes and creditors to reduce the total amount of the inheritance each of your children receives.

To avoid these issues, you may want to set up a living trust, instead. This estate planning tool involves creating an entity separate from yourself and transferring your assets to its ownership. You can name yourself or someone else as the trustee to manage the assets and provide you with what you need to live comfortably. Your trust includes specific instructions for the distribution of the remaining assets after you die, and these instructions are not easily disputable. In fact, you may even include a clause stating that anyone who disputes your instructions will automatically be disinherited.

Because your assets and income may change from time to time, you should also create a pour-over will. This document transfers whatever assets to the trust that are not in it at the time of your death, although they must go through probate before they can be transferred and distributed. Other factors may apply in your situation, so this general information should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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