"But Is It Fair?" Determining Who Receives Your Assets
“But is it fair?” we often hear clients ask after they’ve described how they would like their assets divided after they pass away.
Perhaps they may be closer to one child than the other or they believe their grandchildren would benefit more than their children or they wish to leave cash to some children and land to others. In any case, often when someone wants to distribute their estate in a somewhat less than traditional way, they worry about whether or not it is “fair.”
Our response is always the same: “fair” is whatever you want.
You’ve worked hard to compile your estate assets during you life and ultimately, you should feel free to gift it to whomever you choose without guilt.
Further, there are no laws in North Dakota, requiring you to leave your assets to anyone in particular in your will. However, if you wish to leave out a specific person, such as a spouse, child, or grandchild, it’s very important that you specifically and clearly exclude them from your will. If you simply do not include them, they could argue that you excluded them unintentionally or accidentally, and petition the court to include them. If you fail to create a will, of course, then state law dictates who receives what.
In a will, it is also worthwhile to include a clause that deals with individuals who contest the will. Often these clauses state that the contesting individual receives a small amount of money (such as one dollar) and are barred from inheriting further. These clauses are wise to include in order to prevent disgruntled family members or long lost relatives from contesting the will without good cause.
Individuals usually want their family members to feel loved and cared for, even after they pass away. Distributing assets “fairly” is often an expression of the testator’s love but, ultimately, you should give your assets away according to your wishes without being guided by feelings of guilt and obligation. At Boppre Law Firm, we are here to reassure you and help ensure your wishes are followed, whatever they might be.