Should Inheritances be Equal or Fair?

Brooke Swier Schloss
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Family Law and Estate Planning attorney helping families across South Dakota plan and protect their loved ones


A common issue for those trying to plan an estate, especially the dispositive provisions of a will or revocable trust, are the dispositive provisions. The issue is summarized in a short phrase: “equal versus fair.”  The vast majority of people use equal as the default dispositive scheme and don’t delve into what’s “fair.”


It’s simpler. It’s assumed that equal won’t create ill will among heirs in contrast to an unequal but fair distribution. While equal is certainly a simple default, it may not be appropriate or fair for heirs of varying need. But exploring what might be fair once the default approach of equality is varied can be a challenging and emotional discussion for many clients.


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