Estate Plan Updates: Treat Stepchildren Like Biological Children

In today’s world, blended families are a common occurrence. Many parents of stepchildren consider the biological children of their spouse to be their own. In these cases, parents may want to update their estate plan to account for stepchildren specifically. Failing to do so could result in the stepchildren being left out of an inheritance.

5 Reasons to Update Your Estate Plan If You Wish to Include Stepchildren

Why should stepparents consider updating their estate plan? The following are five important reasons:

  1. If you drafted your estate plan by making reference to your “children,” absent further modifications to your plan, your stepchildren would not be included in this group of beneficiaries. This is because the law does not treat stepchildren the same way it treats biological children.
  2. If you do not update your estate plan to include your stepchildren, they may be left with nothing from your estate when you die.
  3. If you do not update your estate plan to include your stepchildren, they may be left with nothing from their biological parent’s estate as well. This would be the case if the biological parent left everything to the surviving spouse, and the biological parent was the first to die.
  4. Even if your children and stepchildren get along well and treat each other as if they were a biological family, there is no guarantee this will continue after you die. The loss of a parent is often emotionally stressful and difficult. During this time period, children and stepchildren may not cooperate as they once did.
  5. Even if your children and stepchildren do get along well, it can be a mistake to rely on your biological children to simply “do the right thing” without updating your estate plan. If your children opt to give a portion of their inheritance to their stepsiblings, this may trigger undesirable tax consequences for the children.

Fortunately, updating an estate plan does not need to be a difficult or painful process. We are here to ensure that it is handled properly and efficiently. We encourage you to check out our client testimonials to learn more about how we have helped others.