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Should you go even-Steven in your will?

When it's time to plan for your estate, if you have minor or adult children or other close heirs, you could face a dilemma. If you have more than one heir, how do you go about splitting the assets among them?

California law does have a little to say about this, so the first thing you need to do is understand what you can legally do and not do. If you leave a will that's too far off of the law, the courts might step in and override you -- especially if heirs bring appropriate actions in probate. Working with an estate law professional helps you avoid this issue.

The second thing you'll need to consider is whether you want to approach inheritances with an even-Steven mindset. Do all your heirs get an equal share of the pie? On the surface, this seems like the fairest way to approach the question, but if one of your heirs has more needs than the others or if one has provided more assistance to you throughout the years, you might want to make a different split.

Consider a situation where you have three adult children and one is disabled and has always relied on you for support. If the other two are able to support themselves, you might need to provide more for your third child so he or she can continue to live well after you are gone. In such a situation, it's hopeful the other two children would understand this need.

In another situation, you might have two adult children. One might have given up a lot of independence or opportunities to stay at home and take care of you in your last years. In such a case, you might consider leaving the home property to that person so they can remain living there.

Each case is unique, so it's important to consider all your options. You might also want to discuss your decisions ahead of time with heirs to avoid hurt feelings and probate litigation in the future.

Source: NASDAQ, "How to Treat Your Heirs Fairly," Sally Abrahms, Dec. 23, 2016

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