You Have The Right To Leave Your Children Unequal Shares Of Your Estate
Personal finance advice columnists have strong opinions about whether you should divide your estate equally among your children. Some say that playing favorites in your will is a sure way to create rifts in your family that will make it very difficult for your grandchildren to enjoy the same kind of close relationship with their cousins that you had with your extended family. Others say that dividing your estate unequally is unfair if it is based on emotions but fair if it is based on money; equitable does not always mean equal, whether in the context of divorce or estate law. For example, if one of your children borrowed money from you and never paid it back, you can deduct it from their inheritance. Likewise, you can leave a greater share of your estate to a son or daughter who needs the money more than their siblings do. Probate lawyers do not base their decisions or advice on whether the testator was a generous, fair-minded, or vindictive person. They do, however, help you challenge a will if it does not represent the testator’s true intentions, such as if your mother wrote you out of her will because your siblings bullied her into it when her health was failing. This is called undue influence, and an Orlando probate lawyer can help you if it is at play in the estate plan of one of your recently deceased relatives.
Mother’s Will Favors Caregiver Daughter and Nearly Disinherits Daughter Who Never Repaid Loan
In 2003, when Arlene wrote her will, she owned a house in Key West, as well as a vacant lot next to it. She instructed the probate court to sell her house and divide the proceeds among her children Charles, Marvalene, Portia, Roland, and William; if any of them were to predecease her, their children would get their deceased’s parent’s share of the house’s value. Marvalene’s share was four percent, and the other siblings got four percent each. Arlene’s will bequeathed the vacant lot to Portia and divided the rest of Arlene’s assets equally among Portia and her three brothers.
After Alene died in 2017, Marvalene, the disinherited daughter, filed a challenge in probate court. Marvalene, her surviving siblings, and the children of her deceased brothers entered a stipulation that it was Marvalene’s responsibility to show a preponderance of the evidence that Arlene had written the will under undue influence. Arlene was healthy when she wrote the will, and she lived another 14 years. Portia had been Arlene’s primary caregiver in her old age.
Before Arlene wrote the will, Marvalene had asked her for a loan so that she could open a restaurant in Key West. To obtain the loan, Arlene took a second mortgage on her house. Like many new businesses, Marvalene’s restaurant closed after a short time, and she left town without paying her mother back. Therefore, the probate court administered Arlene’s will as it was written.
Contact an Attorney for Help
A probate lawyer can help you if your siblings are making it difficult for you to claim your share of your inheritance. Contact Gierach and Gierach, P.A. in Orlando, Florida to discuss your case.