You consider your stepchildren to be your kids. You love them just as much as your biological children and you provide for them in the same way that you provide for your biological children. You do not differentiate between your stepchildren and your biological children in your everyday life. However, if you die without a will that specifically provides for your stepchildren then your stepchildren and your biological children may be treated very differently after your death.
What Happens If You Take No Action
If you fail to modify your estate plan after you marry your stepchildren’s parent—then it is likely that your stepchildren will have no legal right to inherit from you when you die. There is a limited exception pursuant to the doctrine of “equitable adoption” that allows a stepchild to inherit from a stepparent if there is clear and convincing evidence that the stepparent would have adopted the stepchild if there had not been a legal reason why the adoption could not take place. This is a difficult standard to meet and in most cases a stepchild who is not specifically provided for in a stepparent’s estate will not inherit anything upon that stepparent’s death.
Don’t Let This Happen to Your Stepchildren
Instead, provide for all of the children whom you love by modifying your estate plan to include them specifically. You may, for example:
- Leave them specific property in your will.
- Set up a trust that names your stepchild as a beneficiary.
- List your stepchild as a life insurance beneficiary.
How you divide your estate is up to you. However, you should do it with full knowledge of the consequences so that you can be sure that you are providing what you want to provide for you stepchildren and for all of your other beneficiaries.
To learn more about how to effectively modify your estate plan when you become a stepparent, start a live chat with us today or use our online contact form to schedule an initial consultation.