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Wills, heirs and the perception of inequality

You do all that you can to make your will equal. You know that a lot of estate disputes arise when one heir gets more than the others. Siblings may spend years in court arguing over what should happen with your assets. You want to avoid that, so you just make everything perfectly equal.

This may be a wise move, but one thing you should know is that the perception of inequality can still be an issue. Your heirs may not see things the same way that you do or the same way that an unrelated outsider would see things. Disputes can still happen.

For instance, imagine that you have two children. One lives in Seattle, but the other moved to New York 20 years ago. The one who lives near you took care of you in your old age. This cost them financially, and it took up a lot of their time. It was emotionally draining. They had to take on a lot of "chores" and do a lot of work, setting their own needs aside.

Meanwhile, the other child kept in touch with occasional letters, but that was it. They came to visit once or twice a year and did not really do much else.

If you leave equal portions to both children, the one who took care of you may still feel shortchanged. They will feel like they deserve money to make up for their time, their energy and their own spending. The will may appear equal, but they'll feel like it isn't -- or like the equality itself is an insult.

Inheritance disputes arise for many reasons and all involved need to know what legal steps to take.

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Riach Gese Jacobs, PLLC
7331 196th Street, SW
P.O. Box 1067
Lynnwood, WA 98046

Phone: 425-329-7857
Phone: 425-776-3191
Fax: 425-775-0406
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