How to Leave Your Kids Money, Not Drama

An inheritance can be a gift or a burden. Make sure your kids get the most out of what you leave them.

by Jean Chatzky
Photograph: iStock

The second reason inheritances go awry is because they aren’t given equally. “I tell my clients that children equate equality of love with equality of inheritance,” Jon Gallo says. “If you’re going to distinguish in the amounts you’re giving to your children, tell them why you’re doing it before you die. Otherwise it’s quite likely to generate hostile feelings in which one child blames another for getting more.” That’s not to say there won’t be situations where inequality is called for. You may remember the $100,000 that you gave one child for a down payment on a house and decide to deduct it from her inheritance. Just make sure she remembers it, too.

First Published May 16, 2011

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