Ask any parent with multiple children if they have a favorite, and they’ll tell you they don’t. However, those children often feel like they do.
This is important when considering estate planning, seeing as how childhood feelings and conflicts can come back even for adults when their parents pass away. For instance, a middle child who always felt left out may also feel like the will left more to his or her siblings — which can be seen as just one more instance of their parents acting unfairly toward them. Could this make an inheritance dispute more likely? Could that child decide to do everything in their power to contest the plan and get every cent they can, or at least to make it harder for their siblings out of spite?
One thing to consider is that, no matter what parents tell you, researchers have found that many actually do have a favorite. Some reasons include:
- Shared interests
- Birth order
A parent may have a stronger bond with a first-born, for instance, because they had more time when it was just the two of them together. A fourth child is born into a larger family and the parents simply don’t have time to give them the same attention. Parents also may connect with their children over things that make them similar — such as gender or shared interests — in much the way that they pick their friends. This can develop as the children grow older.
These family dynamics can make the estate distribution process very complex and emotional. Everyone involved needs to know what legal rights they have.