The help desk: 'I'm writing my will - should I divide everything equally between my children?'

'It is not your business to equalise their status in life at this late stage'

Q. I am in my late sixties and I have recently started to make a will. I have two daughters. One is married and earns good money as a dentist, and she and her husband own a nice house. Her elder sister is a single parent to my lovely granddaughter, aged three. She's talented and clever but has not been so lucky and things have always been difficult for her financially.

I own my house and also a small flat that I rent out, so, depending on what my old age brings, there could be quite a bit to pass on. My instinct is to leave the greater part to my elder daughter, as I can see she will always struggle, and it would make the most difference to her and my granddaughter. But my partner (who is not their father) is adamant that this will cause bad feeling between them (though they've always got on well) and says I should divide everything equally. That just doesn't seem fair to me. What should I do?

A. If money were just money, if we did not so readily equate it with worth, if it did not have a track record of tearing families apart and causing bloody wars, then your Robin Hood policy would make a lot of sense. Yes, it's fair, in a way. You elder daughter is likely to need the money more. But do you really think your younger one will see it that way?

She has done well in life, got herself qualified and settled, and might reasonably expect a bit of a pat on the back from her mother. Instead, she will see the "reward" going to her less successful sister.

I wonder if you have any siblings yourself. I have five, and during our childhood, the work of the fairness police never stopped. Tape measures were routinely employed in the division of chocolate. Have I forgotten the time when two of my sisters inexplicably, outrageously, returned from Carnaby Street wearing jumbo cord miniskirts from Kids in Gear? No, I have not. Fraternal competition for resources is ferocious, because, in our hearts, it is a competition for love.

We never really grow out of this, and most of us are still mentally counting out the Smarties. My guess is that if you followed your plan, it would cause anguish from which the loving relationship between your daughters would never recover.

So I say you divide it down the middle. It is not your business to equalise their status in life at this late stage (or indeed, a much later stage, as here's hoping you've got a few good years in you yet). In any case, her half of your money will have a greater impact on the life of your poorer daughter. If it's your granddaughter you're thinking of, leave some money to her. But remember that any children your other daughter produces after you die will not have received the same benefit. So it goes on.

It's your money, though. And if you decide to follow your plan, explain your decision to your daughters without delay. I've seen the heartbreak caused by an unexpected "snub" in a parent's will, and the pain is that much worse when there's no longer the opportunity to ask why.

Your problem shared

Have a dilemma? Email your predicament no matter how big or small to Louisa at

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

    Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

    SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

    £1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

    Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

    £32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam