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Dividing assets in a will

Buffalo, NY |

I am not sure how to divide my assets in a will I have my parents who are elderly and two brothers along with two nieces,two nephews and one great niece.What the heck is fair Was thinking of doing it evenly and telling them to divide it One brother has one child and the other has three children along with one grandchild Parents are doing well

Attorney Answers 5


  1. It is your money and you should do whatever is on your heart.
    The majority of my clients in similar circumstances would not leave
    to parents unless they are needy, leave a dollar amount to nieces and nephews,
    and the balance to their siblings.

    The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.


  2. Your situation is not unfamiliar and is challenging. Good for you for addressing this issue. You should speak with an estate planning attorney in your area who can help you think the distribution issues through and prepare valid documents to ensure your distribution scheme is carried through.

    One of the ways to manage this is to leave distribution discretion to your Executor or to create a testamentary trust and leave a certain amount of discretion to the trustee. Elder parents may predecease you or need long-term care; larger families need more resources but what if the child of the smaller family becomes disabled?

    A myriad of issues can emerge and there is no way to predict and, thus, plan for all of them. However, a good estate planning attorney can assist you with at least planning for the unexpected.

    Good luck!

    The answers and information I provide here, via a link, or any other reference do not create an attorney-client relationship. Before acting on any information provided, you should contact an attorney who has experience with your issue Though I may answer questions posed by individuals in other jurisdictions, I am licensed to practice only in the State of Illinois. If you reside outside the State of Illinois and your matter does not relate to a person or property inside the State of Illinois, you should contact counsel in your particular state. IRS Circular 230 Notice: "To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein."


  3. I agree with Attorneys Elliott and Pippen. I would only add this: your first question should be "who needs my assets?" The second: "do any of these individuals have problems with creditors or could have creditor issues down the road." The second question relates to the possibility of the state taking assets if a person goes into a nursing home or a beneficiary who has problems with his or her credit cards. Clearly, you would be well-served by retaining an attorney to walk through these and other questions. Good luck to you.

    This information is presented as a public service. It should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor considered to be the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. I am licensed in Connecticut and New York and my answers are based upon the law in those jurisdictions. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if I were to review a client's file and have the opportunity to interview the client. Accordingly, I strongly urge you to retain an attorney in your jurisdiction with respect to any legal matter.


  4. Dear Unsure in Buffalo:

    Clearly it is up toli you as to who becomes a "taker" under your Will.

    We wouldn't suggest you leave anything to your parents or anyone in their generation. Your siblings are probably "established" and don't need the money.

    It is certainly not going to make anyone angry at you if you leave it all equally to your siblings PER STIRPES, which means if one sibling dies before you, then their share goes to their own children equally.

    If it was me, I'd leave it to the little ones, evenly. The question is whether to treat the grandniece equal to the nieces/nephews? Since there is a grand in the game, perhaps the nephews/nieces are not so little after all.

    Some people leave something to a charity and you can actually get a tax deduction for yourself now by stating a gift to a Trust either with or without life insurance.

    Perhaps the best thing to do is to fly first class and take it with you...

    Good Luck

    Leonard Feld

    The foregoing is based on the little information provided; additional facts may change the comments given.


  5. My colleagues have answered your question pretty thoroughly. I will add this, as an option or alternative. The states have worked out a scheme for distribution in the event that there is no will (Intestate Distribution Scheme). It is rather well though out and may provide some guidance. If there is no spouse, the property is divided among the children first. This allows any surviving property or assets to be passed on to the grandchildren because it becomes part of the children's estate. If you have no surviving children, the siblings receive the estate and this way it can passes onto the nieces and nephews when the siblings pass, and so on. It is just a thought, but it might give you some food for thought.
    Certainly an estate planning attorney could review all your options and answer your concerns. Good luck.

    This answer is provided for informational purposes only and it is not intended as legal advice. Additionally, this answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you wish to obtain legal advice specific to your case, please consult with a local attorney

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