Do I have to leave assets to my children equally?

While there is no requirement that parents leave their assets to their children equally, many parents choose to do exactly that in an effort to be fair. However, where real property is concerned, that may not always be the best choice because the children will have to make some decisions concerning the disposition of the property. If the children are financially secure, and are in possession of their own homes, they have a number of options.

They could put the house on the market, realize a profit from the sale and divide the proceeds equally. Or one sibling could buy out the other siblings, and keep the house as a place in which to reside or as rental property. Another possibility is that the siblings could keep the house as rental property, while sharing income and expenses.

But problems may arise if they do not all agree on what to do with the house. If one sibling is in dire financial straits, and the others are not, they may be unable to arrive at an agreement. Parents can prevent such discord by communicating their intentions with their children beforehand. They can also speak with an estate planning attorney, who might recommend some useful strategies. For instance, they could establish a trust that will provide funds to pay for expenses, including property taxes and maintenance.

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