FAQs Do I Have to Divide My Estate Equally Between My Children?

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How To Prevent Sibling Conflict Over Your Will | FAQs Do I Have to Divide My Estate Equally Between My Children? | Mario Godoy | Chicago Estate Planning Lawyer

You have the right to distribute your assets any way you choose. Illinois law does not require you to divide your estate equally between all of your children. Your assets are yours to dispose of, and with very few exceptions, may be disposed of exactly how you wish.

Reasons for Divisions of Assets

There are often very valid reasons to treat children your children differently when you plan how your assets will be distributed after your death:

  • Younger children may not have received the financial benefits you offered to your older children before your death, such as money for college, a wedding or down payment on a home.
  • Some children may have borrowed money from you
  • A child may have health issues that you want to provide for
  • A family business may need to be protected
  • You may want to provide for current or future grandchildren
  • Step-children or children from 2nd marriages may have different needs

The reality is the perceived unequal or unfair treatment of siblings in a will can result in conflict, hurt feelings, family disputes and even challenges to the will. There are steps you can take to prevent future challenges to your will.

If you foresee potential conflict between your heirs, make sure to work with an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney to ensure that your will is valid. It’s also important that you review and update your will on a regular basis so that if circumstances change, the provisions you made in your will still make sense. For example, if you made your will while you have younger children still living at home and now all your children are living on their own and financially independent,

How To Prevent Sibling Conflict Over Your Will

If you know the terms of your will might cause conflict between your children, there are steps you can take after your will is created to prevent potential conflict between your children after your death.

Review Your Will Regularly

Review and update your will whenever a significant life event happens in your family, such as a birth, death, divorce or another milestone.

Inform Your Heirs

Tell your children how you plan to distribute your assets when you die so that there is no misunderstanding at the already emotional time of your death. If the siblings have expectations of what is in your will all understand your reasons they won’t be blindsided and there will be less validity to challenge your will – even if they don’t agree with your decisions.

Document Your Reasoning

Include language or documentation in your will that explains why you are distributing your assets unequally among your children. A qualified estate planning attorney can advise you on language, provisions and precautions you can take so that your heirs are less likely to challenge the will.

Advise Your Executor

When you choose the executor of your will, choose someone who can handle potential conflicts and advise them if you feel your children might challenge your will.


Estate planning is preparing for the future. Contacting Estate & Probate Legal Group in Lombard and Chicago today at 1-630-800-0112.