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Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

Separate but Equal

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Parents often try to “equalize” distributions to avoid upsetting their children, but you may be able to suggest a different solution that will be more beneficial for everyone. For example, clients of Rick Kahler’s wanted to give one of their four children $30,000 as a down payment to buy a home. In order not to be unfair to the others, they asked Rick, a financial planner in Rapid City, South Dakota, if they could afford to withdraw $120,000 to make gifts to all four kids.

Feeling that this move would compromise their financial security, Rick suggested instead that they make a no-interest, open-ended $30,000 loan to the child who wanted to buy a house. They could then write a codicil to their will stating that all loans would be forgiven at their death, and that an equal amount (adjusted for inflation) would be distributed to the other children.

The parents enthusiastically endorsed this solution, which honored their desire for ultimate equality while allowing them to support one of their offspring at a time of need. In addition, it had a much smaller impact on their savings than withdrawing $120,000 would have had.


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