Most of us would like to be remembered for who we were, not what we had. Still, if you have any assets that you’ve accumulated during your lifetime that you plan to leave behind, it’s on you to figure out who gets what.
That decision can be particularly fraught if you have more than one child – especially if your offspring’s circumstances are dramatically different or you’re much closer to one than another. The simplest solution might be to divide whatever you have equally among them. But is equal the same thing as fair?
A growing number of parents are answering that question with a resounding, “No.”
According to a new study from Merrill Lynch Bank of America/Age Wave, among those planning to leave an inheritance, parents with more than one child are open to leaving different sums to each one, depending on the situation. In fact, the research found that two thirds of Americans believe that, under certain circumstances, an uneven split is the right way to go.
Other studies have echoed this trend. A 2015 academic paper published by IZA Institute for Labor Economics, based on data from a large government study, found that among Americans at least 50 years old who had a will, the percentage who left unequal inheritances to their children had more than doubled from 16 percent in 1995 to 35 percent in 2010.