News and Commentary

A Fair Inheritance is in the Eye of the Beholder By Lee F. Hediger

Leaving behind a lasting legacy and providing for surviving family members in the event of an individual’s death or disability takes time, patience and consideration of a broad range of non-financial issues. While there are times when an unequal division of property among heirs is preferable, consideration should be given how surviving family members will respond after the benefactor’s passing and whether the uneven distribution of assets should be addressed while the benefactor is still alive.

For example, consider a father of two children who spent most of his life building a successful and profitable business. If the son entered the family business while the daughter made a career with another company in another field, would both children consider it “fair” if the father left the business to his son? Would the daughter feel slighted? Would it be reasonable to the children if the father compensated the daughter with cash instead of ownership in the business?

How children will likely react to and manage an inheritance, especially when one child is bequeathed more control, responsibility or assets than the other, is open to debate. Moreover, when children consider an unequal division of a parent’s estate to be unfair, there is a risk that heirs could challenge and fight over an estate plan in a court of law. Not only can this lead to fractured family relationships, but it may also result in a distribution of assets contrary to the benefactor’s well-thought-out wishes and plans.

To help ensure that family members’ estate plans are understood and accepted may require difficult conversations during one’s lifetime. There should be no reason for heirs to misconstrue an “unequal” division of property with one that is unfair or that reflects a lack of thought or love. By engaging in discussions and explaining the rationale behind a plan before a benefactor’s death, family members may avoid emotional reactions and be more understanding and accepting of a decedent’s wishes.

The professionals with Provenance Wealth Advisors have extensive experience working with high-net-worth individuals to develop sound estate plans and help them to communicate those plans thoughtfully and strategically to family members.

About the Author: Lee F. Hediger is a co-founding director with Provenance Wealth Advisors (PWA), an Independent Registered Investment Advisor affiliated with Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs and a registered representative with PWA Securities, LLC. He can be reached at the firm’s Fort Lauderdale, Fla., office at (954) 712-8888 or

Provenance Wealth Advisors (PWA), 200 E. Las Olas Blvd., 19th Floor, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954) 712-8888.

 Lee F. Hediger is a registered representative of and offers securities through PWA Securities, LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC.

 This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct.

 Any opinions are those of the advisors of PWA and not necessarily those of PWA Securities, LLC. While we are familiar with the tax provisions of the issues presented herein, as Financial Advisors of PWAS, we are not qualified to render advice on tax or legal matters. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. Prior to making any investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.

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Updated on December 15, 2023