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To split will between dc on basis of need, not equally?

(493 Posts)
jzjz Thu 01-Feb-18 03:25:50

More of wwyd in this situation

Dh and I have had the same will since our 3 dc were children, splitting everything equally between them. They're now all grown up with their own families and very different circumstances, so I'm wondering if splitting equally is the best thing to do.

For context (all names changed)...
We have three adult children

1) Andrew - ultra intelligent & highest earning by far, his wife is also a high earner (both city lawyers). They have two kids - Bethany & Michael -both v. academic & high-achieving - who they've put through private school. Bethany doing law at top uni, Michael doing A-levels and want to do medicine. So I'd imagine they'll both be high earners in the future. If it's relevant, their mother is an only child and has very wealthy parents, so the family will be getting a big inheritance from them.

2) Hannah - not at all academic, didn't go to uni, got married and had a daughter & son quite young. The son (Jake) is in a stable relationship with 2 kids, has a good office job but doesn't earn a huge amount. The daughter (Isabel) is a single parent to 2 small kids whose fathers aren't in the picture, she works a few hours a week (can't do more due to childcare issues), but mostly relies on parents/benefits.

3) Jane went to uni & is a teacher, so earns a reasonable amount. Husband hasn't worked in years due to disability. 2 kids - the older (Lucy) went to uni, though not a top uni, and has just started working in an office in her home town, living at home. The younger (David) has SEN & works in a supermarket.

My question really is, should we leave the will as it is and split it equally, giving 1/3 to each child?

Should we split it equally 9 ways between each child & grandchild? (or include great-granchildren too?)

Or should we allocate it more on basis of need - i.e. not leave anything of financial worth to Andrew's family?

Should we prioritise Isabel, Jake, Lucy, David?

goodyzoe Thu 01-Feb-18 03:30:48

Difficult. As well as what you think is fair with money, you also need to consider the relationship between your children. Are they close / do they get on now? Could this harm their relationship?

What do you think Andrew would say if you asked him - Do you think it's fair to split equally? Not saying you should give him the power to make the decision - but if he day he doesn't need it then that'd help.

PositivelyPERF Thu 01-Feb-18 03:31:34

Three equal splits otherwise you’re punishing the children that have done well for themselves. It ends up causing resentment if it’s not equal as the one that gets the least may view it as if you are for them the least. Their financial business isn’t really any of your concern.

PositivelyPERF Thu 01-Feb-18 03:32:37

Care for them the least NOT are for them

PyongyangKipperbang Thu 01-Feb-18 03:49:24

Have you talked to your high earning son about this? He may well be ok a only getting a sentimental gift in order that his siblings families get more. You do need to make it clear though that this is simply about helping those who need it most and not about love or preferences for any child/ren.

Only you know how that would go, but if he is ok with it I would split it equally between your 2 other children and leave it up to them how they pass it on to the next generation.

jzjz Thu 01-Feb-18 03:50:15

I'm not really sure what Andrew would say.

On the one hand, Andrew is very rational and I'm sure would, to an extent, view it unemotionally. So if we split the money equally, that would mean about £200,000 for each child. That is roughly Andrew & his wife's household income annually, for all the other children/grandchildren it's more money than they see in 15 years.

Supposing each child chose to split the money between their 2 kids, giving each £100,000. I know for a fact that Bethany and Michael have trust funds set up by their maternal grandparents that have about that amount in. They're going to inherit a lot more when those grandparents pass.

None of the other grandchildren have trust funds or rich other grandparents - £100,000 would be transformative for them, particularly in the areas of the country they live in.

But on the other hand, I worry that Andrew would see it as a bit of a snub if we broach the topic with him.

In regards to sibling relationships, Jane and Hannah & their families are very close; but Andrew doesn't really have a relationship with either of them, doesn't see them apart from when I invite them round at the same time every few years. Bethany and Michael can probably count the number of times they've met their cousins on two hands.

GraceHelen Thu 01-Feb-18 03:55:15

All i can think is: on your death the final memory you are leaving 1 child and 2 grandchildren is that they didn't matter as have been left out if your will.

I think it should be based not on perceived need but equality. It is, to me, the only fair way to do it.
Either just a straight equal 3 way split between your 3 children, and leave it up to them if/how much/when their children& grandchildren get something. Or again equal 3 way split but with set amount for each grandchild (equal for each no matter what).

PyongyangKipperbang Thu 01-Feb-18 03:56:07

Whatever you decide, you just need to be very very clear that your money does not represent your love. That you love for him is just as strong as for the others, but they didnt have his abilities and luck and so you want to see them have the security he has.

LifeBeginsNow Thu 01-Feb-18 03:59:13

I think I'd focus on your children rather than including the grandchildren or it just gets too complicated.

It's a lot of money each and I'm sure all of your children would be very grateful but I can see your problem. I think I would want to offer Andrew something (a token amount for a lovely holiday for example) but I would have the figure in mind and meet with him to discuss. Leave him to think about it and he can decide. If he thinks it unfair, split 3 ways. Hopefully he will understand what you are trying to do and allow a split based on means.

WetWipeofWonder Thu 01-Feb-18 04:05:37

I'd split it three ways. I wouldn't penalise the high earning son for having been successful.

tealandteal Thu 01-Feb-18 04:13:16

Split it equally, you have no way of knowing what the future holds. Andrew may split from his wife and lose all his money in the divorce, or have an accident and no longer be able to work. Just because he doesn't need it now doesn't mean he might not need it in the future.

TestingTestingWonTooFree Thu 01-Feb-18 04:14:50

9 way split. I suppose you might consider some gifts before your death for children/grandchildren based on need, although it’s difficult given that you never quite know how much cash you’d need to keep for yourself.

CheapSausagesAndSpam Thu 01-Feb-18 04:15:57

Leave it equally and only to the children...not the grandchildren. Or, if you want to, a smaller, equal amount to all GC....a token of say two thousand each. That's enough to feel as though you wanted to treat them but also not enough to denigrate the children's amount.

nooka Thu 01-Feb-18 04:22:31

I think most lawyers and accountants would advise a simple three way split between your children as anything else will be complicated and might be contentious, possibly leading to a lot of unhappiness and potentially leading to rifts between your children. Presumably you gave all your children equal opportunities growing up and they made their choices as to their future. It seems unreasonable at least on the face of it to penalise the one that was successful.

You could skip a generation and leave everything to your grandchildren but I imagine you'd feel a bit awkward leaving money to the two who are advantaged and not to your children who might be helped very much by extra money. A nine way split to children and grandchildren seems a bit of an odd choice to me, better I think to give the money to their parents and let them choose if they want to pass it down however they choose.

My parents did an equal split between children and also set up a trust fund for education for all of their grandchildren, the amount used by each of them has been different as their circumstances are quite different but the gift was access to the fund (this type of arrangement needs executors to manage). They also made provision for some special bequests where they felt there was an additional need (we also have family with special needs and they have been provided for - if you want to do this you may need advice on the best way to do it as there are implications for benefits etc, and again it will need someone to manage the funds). They have been similarly even handed through our lives which means that there have never been any resentments between us. When my father died there were no surprises and we were able to divide up furniture etc very amicably when the family home was sold. Grief plus anger/resentment is a horrible mixture, complicated wills can be explosive.

emmyrose2000 Thu 01-Feb-18 04:28:34

You have three children. The will absolutely must be split evenly three ways. Otherwise it's favouritism, and punishing the child/ren who have done well.

Their academic results, other grandparents, current jobs, hypothetical future jobs, etc are completely and utterly irrelevant.

I coudln't in any way fathom favouring one or my children over the other in my will, regardless of circumstances.

jzjz Thu 01-Feb-18 04:33:59

I suppose I'm just struggling with the dilemma of having one granddaughter who is a single mother on benefits while another has a £100grand trust fund and is studying law at Oxbridge.

Their lives and needs are just so different.

araiwa Thu 01-Feb-18 04:37:18

Id just split equally between the 3 children

TournesolsetLavande Thu 01-Feb-18 04:39:34

I agree with Grace. You don't prioritise anyone. There are a couple of scenarios where I think it would be okay to do this, but this isn't one of them.

And it's all very well doing as Pyong says, but that is unlikely to make the child who gets nothing or less feel equally valued and loved. it will feel like a punishment for daring to be successful.

Keep back a smaller amount, let's say up around £5k each to give to each of the grandchildren, to be released when they reach 18 or 21. Make sure it is ring fenced so their parents can't access it earlier.

Do not make any provision for great grandchildren, that is unfair to the GC who do not have children of their own yet. You'd essentially be giving one grandchild more than the others.

Split the remainder of your estate equally between all three of your children. It's up to them if they want to help their own children and grandchildren out now using your money, or not.

Coyoacan Thu 01-Feb-18 04:39:50

I think it is important to split it three ways equally, especially as you are in the fortunate position of being able to leave a substantial sum to each family.

ittooshallpass Thu 01-Feb-18 04:42:55

Split evenly between each child. Surely your high earning siblings won’t sit back and watch the low earning family members struggle?

TournesolsetLavande Thu 01-Feb-18 04:50:30

I suppose I'm just struggling with the dilemma of having one granddaughter who is a single mother on benefits while another has a £100grand trust fund and is studying law at Oxbridge.

Yes they are. But they are both your granddaughters and you love them equally so you should treat them equally. If you wouldn't punish the single parent GD for the directions she's taken and the life choices she's made then you should not punish the other GD for hers either.

TournesolsetLavande Thu 01-Feb-18 04:51:46

Sorry, don't know what the 'yes they are' was in response to. confused


nokidshere Thu 01-Feb-18 04:57:43

Split 3 ways equally between your children. Anything else would be grossly unfair.

As someone said upthread you have no idea what the future holds an what their circumstances will be in the long term.

MsJuniper Thu 01-Feb-18 05:01:39

You have to split equally. Wills are about more than money.

Tournesol's approach is perfect, I would consider going up to £10k per grandchild as you will be making a big difference to the lower earners' lives while still having £180k each to leave your children.

jzjz Thu 01-Feb-18 05:03:11

Split evenly between each child. Surely your high earning siblings won’t sit back and watch the low earning family members struggle?

It’s not that Andrew & his children would “watch” their relatives struggle, they just have no relationship/contact so wouldn’t know.

Andrew doesn’t see his sisters more than once every 3-4 years for big birthday/anniversary parties. Bethany and Michael barely know their cousins and probably wouldn’t recognise them if they walked past them in the street. They’ve never even met Jake’s and Isabel’s children.

I know it’s sad, but I suppose it’s just how life pans out. THey live in different parts of the country and have very different lives.

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