If you’re leaving unequal assets in your Will, this can be a difficult conversation to have with your children. In this article, we’ll explore how you can best talk to your kids about leaving unequal assets in your Will. 

how to communicate to your children unequal assets in your will

This is a contributed post offering useful advice and guidance to my readers.

A will is one of those essential personal documents that you should have when you’re a parent. When drafting a Will, parents may leave unequal assets to their kids for many different reasons. While doing so is perfectly acceptable, it’s important that you have a discussion with your kids about this. Failing to communicate your intentions to your children means there’s a good chance of one of them contesting a will, causing disputes amongst siblings once you’ve passed away.

Talking to your kids about unequal assets in your Will can be a tricky subject.

To help ensure a successful conversation, these eight tips can help…

1. Consider their age

If you are leaving unequal assets and you need to tell your children, you must ensure that your discussions are age-appropriate. With younger children, it’s important that you keep your explanations simple and concise. Younger kids may find the topic difficult to grasp, regardless, it’s still important that you have the conversation.

Older kids are probably going to have a whole lot more questions. You might need to think about what they may ask you.

If your children are adults, they may feel upset or angry, depending on the circumstances. When you’re explaining the situation to adult children, it’s useful to think about any questions they might ask you so that you’re prepared.

2. Plan what you’ll say

Before you talk to your kids about your Will, it can be a good idea to write down what you are going to say. Going in with a plan will help you to articulate yourself properly. This way, you’ll be able to present the reasons behind your decisions.

If you communicate the reasons that you are leaving unequal assets, this can help your kids to understand. There are many different reasons parents choose to leave unequal assets in a Will, including:

  • If one child becomes the primary caregiver for their elderly parents, the parents may choose to leave this child a larger portion of assets in the Will.
  • Parents may choose to leave less of their assets to their stepchildren, and more to their biological kids (depending on the situation).
  • These decisions might also be based on the financial situation of each child.
  • Unfortunately, sometimes parents do not have a good relationship with all of their children. The decision may be based on these underlying circumstances.
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3. Honesty is best

It’s always important to be honest when you are having this conversation. Attempting to bend the truth or make excuses may only escalate the potential conflict. Of course, you won’t want to hurt your child’s feelings so, it’s important to tread carefully.

Simply explain the situation and you’re reasoning, and then ask your kids if they have any questions. Try to answer their questions truthfully, while being mindful of their feelings. If they ask you a question, and you honestly do not know the answer, it’s better to communicate this truthfully.

4. Write a clear Will

Before you have this conversation with your children, it’s vital that you write a clear Will. You might want to talk to your kids before you make the Will legally binding, but it’s still wise to have a draft document before you have the conversation. Having your wishes written down can help you to guide the discussion and ensure that you can clearly communicate what will happen once you pass away.

5. Work with a mediator

If you believe that conflict may arise between you and your children, and between siblings, it can be useful to hire a family mediator. A mediator can help to guide the discussion, and support all parties to communicate their position, without things getting too heated. A mediator will remain impartial, and offer neutral advice to progress the conversation without actually telling anyone what to do.

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6. Talk to each child separately

When you are discussing your Will with your kids, it can be a good idea to talk to each child separately. If one child will receive a larger portion of assets, it could fuel disagreements to have both kids in the room together.

Start off with individual discussions and give everyone a little time to reflect on the information. You’ll probably already have a good idea of your children’s reaction to the news. Whether your kids are understanding or upset, it’s still a good idea for everyone to have a little space apart to reflect on their own thoughts.

7. Choose the right time

When you need to have a difficult discussion with your kids, choosing the right time is vital. Having this conversation at a bad time could affect the outcome and leave all parties feeling emotionally drained.

Ensure that your children are in a good mood prior to the conversation and that their schedule isn’t too hectic that day. Give your kids a little space after you’ve had the discussion; you can always return to the subject at a later date.

8. Hear them out

If you’re leaving an unequal inheritance in your Will, your adult kids might have something to say about it. While the decision is yours to make, it’s important that your kids feel listened to and valued.

Of course, if your children do not agree with your choices, you are in no way obligated to change your mind. Hearing them out is more about showing them respect, as opposed to letting them influence your decision.

Talking about leaving unequal assets in your will is important

When you’re having a conversation about unequal assets in your Will, it’s useful to plan what you want to say first. It’s vital that you are honest with your children, and that you answer their questions truthfully.

The best thing to do is to explain the reasons behind your choices and, if you need support to reduce conflict, it can also be useful to hire a family mediator. Your children aren’t guaranteed to take the news well, but having the conversation can eventually reduce conflict. This should minimise the risk of contested Wills, and Will disputes, when you are no longer here.