When their parents pass away and the estate administrator reads the will, people sometimes expect all of the bequests to be equal. They assume that all heirs will be treated the same. Sure, they may understand that a nephew or a grandchild will get less than an adult child, but those direct heirs assume their shares will be equal.
But then, when the will is read, the bequests are vastly different. Maybe the majority of the money goes to one person. Maybe someone is cut out of the will entirely. Maybe sentimental items are divided evenly and financial assets are not. Things may be much different than they expected.
Does this mean that the will should be contested? Has another heir used undue influence to ensure that things aren’t fair or equal?
Unequal bequests are on the rise
It certainly could be that undue influence or something of that nature is taking place. This is especially true if there were recent changes to the estate plan that seem to heavily favor one heir.
But you can’t necessarily assume that there are any legal problems. The reality is that unequal bequests are not only legal, but they’re becoming more common. Parents are dividing their money and other assets up in an unequal fashion, based on what they think is best. Some studies have found that roughly a third of all parents do this.
This can make your situation very complicated. Does the will need to be challenged? What were your parents’ wishes? Why are the bequests unequal? If a dispute arises, be sure that you look into all of your legal options.