Important Tips for Including Stepchildren in Your Will

Important Tips for Including Stepchildren in Your Will

Unless you have legally adopted them, your stepchildren do not have any legal right to an inheritance from you. Therefore, to make sure your stepchildren inherit part of your estate, you should name them in your will or trust documents.

Below you will find some information about how you can manage your stepchildren and their inheritance (or lack thereof) in your estate plan.

Leaving gifts to stepchildren

If you wish to leave behind assets to your stepchildren, you would do so as you would with anyone else: name them in your will and specify what you would like them to have, whether it is a specific item, a sum of money or a percentage of your entire estate.

If you have other children from a previous relationship, make sure you do not confuse matters with the terms you use to describe your progeny. Using the words “heirs,” “children” or “descendants,” will include blood relatives and exclude step-children. In those situations, it may be best to use a defined term to refer to your beneficiaries or use the actual names of each child or stepchild to avoid potential disputes or confusion.

Keep in mind that you may also name your stepchildren as beneficiaries of your trusts or various benefits and accounts, such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts and government disability benefits.

Excluding your stepchildren from your estate plan

You do not necessarily need to expressly disinherit your stepchildren from your will as you would a biological child. Instead, you would simply leave them out of the will, and they will not get anything.

However, it is important to remember that if you are either married or partnered to the parent of your stepchild, that stepchild could end up with your property through your spouse upon his or her death. That should be a factor in how you plan your estate. Your attorney can provide you with advice specific to your situation.

For more information regarding how to manage stepchildren in your will, work with an experienced Tampa estate planning attorney at BaumannKangas Estate Law.