Will leaving your business to one child destroy your family?

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2021 | Estate Planning

As a parent with more than one child, you have already likely learned the difficult lesson that it is impossible to be absolutely equal in your treatment for your children. In fact, doing the same thing for all of them could be unfair as they have different abilities, needs and personalities.

If only one of your children has ever expressed any interest in the business you built or inherited from your parents, your legacy plans may include leaving that business to just one child. However, the family business is likely valuable.

If you leave the company to one of your children, that uneven inheritance could place a lot of strain on family relationships. Your other children could grow to resent you and the sibling who inherited the business.

Your company has emotional value and represents current wealth and future income

Inheriting a business is a big responsibility, one that only a few people can truly manage. However, those not tasked with all the responsibilities involved in running the company may see it just as a windfall.

The business itself may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars between the revenue it generates and its holdings. Additionally, the person running the business gets to draw a salary, which means that inheriting the business is like stepping into a well-paid job that you never had to apply to get.

Beyond that, even if your other children have no interest in the company, it represents something of personal worth to you, meaning that it has emotional implications for your children as well. If you leave all of that to one child, you will have to look carefully at the rest of your estate plan.

Make sure you are fair to the other children or careful in how you plan

If you leave your eldest child the family business, you might leave your home to your two remaining children. They could either choose to live in the property or sell it and split the proceeds. Finding other possessions of significant financial and emotional value can help stave off feelings of favoritism and resentment when one child receives a big item from your estate.

On the other hand, it’s possible you don’t want to leave much of anything for your other children. Perhaps you don’t have a relationship with them, or maybe you simply don’t think they would handle an inheritance responsibly.

An uneven split of your assets could lead to conflict and challenges of your estate in the future. Careful estate planning, including the creation of a trust, could help avoid efforts to undermine the legacy you plan to leave.

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