Creating an estate plan that works for every family is impossible because families vary greatly, and the needs of one will not fit the needs of all others. Because of family differences and varying dynamics, plans for inheritances can get infinitely complicated. Michigan families can explore their options for creating plans that take their unique circumstances into account to ensure members’ specific inheritances are outlined and drafted as part of comprehensive estate plans.

One complication that is becoming more common is blended families. A parent may have separate property and assets that he or she wants left to his or her biological children, along with assets for a surviving spouse. In situations such as this, leaving an equal share to all children may not be feasible or be the desired outcome. This can be even more complex of a situation if parents have a child together and each has separate children. Tensions can easily arise between biological and step-children if specifics are not handled properly.

There are other scenarios that may impact parents’ abilities to leave equal inheritances. If there is a child, minor or adult, who has special needs, there may be the need for specific resources to be allocated to ensure the future care of that individual. Estranged children can be another reason an equal splitting of assets simply will not work for some families.

There are a wide variety of ways to divide assets amongst children and ensure inheritances are handled as a parent wishes. An estate plan crafted with the unique needs of a family in mind can help minimize any disputes and complications when the time does arise for an estate plan to be used. Michigan families can sit down and communicate their concerns with professionals and also with family members to help make sure the process unfolds smoothly and conflict is minimized.

Source:, “Estate Planning: Unequal distributions that are fair”, Dennis Fordham, May 14, 2016

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