You love your stepchild and think of the child as your own. However, the law does not. If you were to die without an estate plan, your stepchild would not have the same rights as your biological or adopted children except in very limited circumstances. So, if your intent is to provide for your stepchild in the same manner as you would any of your other children, it is important that you take action to modify your existing estate plan to include your stepchild.
Take These Steps to Protect Your Family
As a new stepparent, it is important to:
- Talk to your spouse. Together, you may decide how all of your children will benefit from both of your estates. You both may want to modify your estate plans to include each other’s children from former marriages. Or you each may want to leave estate money and property to your own biological or adopted children and not your stepchildren. These are important issues to discuss.
- Consider your options. If you modify your estate plan to include your stepchildren, there are various options to consider. You may want to leave them specific property or make them the beneficiary of a trust. You may want them to receive an equal share of the estate. Once you make these decisions, it’s important to have your wishes written in your estate plan as soon as possible.
- Talk to an estate planning lawyer. You don’t want your children, stepchildren, or other beneficiaries to fight over or challenge your estate after your death. Thus, it is important to make sure that your estate is legally binding and enforceable after your death.
Because you want to protect everyone you love, we encourage you to think about your options, and take appropriate action as soon as you become a stepparent. Even if you have been a stepparent for some time, it is not too late to act or to protect your stepchild.