Tips for Including Stepchildren in a Will
If you pass away without a will, intestate succession laws will provide for your spouse and biological children, but not for any stepchildren who you may wish to inherit from your estate.
Therefore, it’s important to be proactive about creating and revising a will to include all of your desired beneficiaries to be included. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Be specific with the language you use: You should use the names of everyone you want to inherit and in what amounts. Rather than writing “my children,” you should use the names of biological children and stepchildren so there is no confusion as to who you mean. Use full names and relationships for all people you intend to inherit.
- Use trusts: In some cases it may make sense for you to use a testamentary trust. This could include cases in which there are young children, a beneficiary has disabilities, or if the estate is comprised of significant assets. Regardless of the situation, a trust allows you to maintain control over how your assets are managed and distributed after your life. So if you want to control how much your children and stepchildren inherit rather than leaving that up to your spouse, you can use a trust for greater guidance.
- Add them as beneficiaries: You can also name stepchildren to be account beneficiaries. This would allow them to inherit proceeds directly from assets such as IRAs, investment accounts and life insurance policies. Money from such accounts is distributed much faster than assets left in wills that must be probated. Even trust assets can take slightly longer to distribute just due to the logistics of getting it done.
For more information about how you can include stepchildren in your estate plan, contact an experienced Tampa estate planning lawyer at BaumannKangas Estate Law.