“[Y]ou have the right to do whatever you want to with your estate.”
That is a widely accepted principle, indeed, a truism, regarding how an individual or couple approaches key administration decisions, such as, well, who gets what.
And sometimes even more importantly, who doesn’t.
A somewhat timeworn but enduringly relevant media article discussing unequal inheritances among surviving family members alludes to a number of “expert sources” who broadly coalesce in agreement regarding a very important estate planning point.
And that is this: Above all, an estate planner in Southern California or elsewhere has carte blanche to act as he or she wants to concerning the final distribution of property, heirlooms and so forth among family members.
That comes with this caveat, though: Even though it’s yours to dispose of as you wish, you might still want to soften the blow — if, indeed, there could be some resulting family friction — by taking a few precautionary moves in advance.
Like communicating, for starters. The above-cited article notes, for example, that heirs often consider an estate distribution “to be their final report card.”
If that is not how you see things, you need to make that timely known, especially if, say, one child gets the house and the other one doesn’t. (Or one gets an undivided interest in the family business, or receives a disproportionately large share of estate assets for one reason or other, or … . You get the point).
Having “the conversation” (or a series of talks over time) can often go far toward promoting estate-related understanding and reducing stress and even family rancor that might otherwise result.
And a proven estate administration attorney being involved in the process can often prove helpful, with that professional being able to objectively spotlight issues and opportunities, as well as craft carefully drafted documents and agreements that spell out intent and ensure compliance with legal requirements.