Creating a Will With Your Stepchild in Mind
When you are creating your will, you want to leave your property and assets to people you love. Naturally, this would include your spouse if you have one and any children if you have them. Those are typical groups of people you would expect to see in a will. However, what if you have stepchildren? A good wills and trusts lawyer, like a wills and trusts lawyer in Sacramento, CA, will understand that things can get to be very complicated, especially if you have step-children but have not adopted them. It is important to know that any stepchildren you do have who are not adopted will not have any legal claim to your inheritance when you pass away, thus it is important that you name them as heirs in your estate plan if you do plan on leaving them anything.
What is a “stepchild?”
This is a great question because most people believe that once you marry someone else who has kids, you have automatically adopted their children as your own. However, this is not the case. A stepchild is your partner or spouse’s child who you have not adopted. If, though, you do choose to adopt them, a court will legally consider them your child. Any kind of legal rights and benefits your own child has your stepchild will then have as well.
Do I need to leave anything to my stepchildren in my will?
No. That said, no one can require you to leave anything to anyone in your will. The purpose of a will is to ensure your assets and property go to people you trust. Thus, it makes sense that you would likely leave your estate to your spouse and then to your children.
What does the law do if both children pass away and there is no will?
While it is important to have something in your will that states what should happen to your children if you have minor children when you pass away, there are laws in all states that protect children as much as possible if a child is not written into the will. For example, if both parents die and the child was not in the will, the state will determine an amount from the deceased’s estate to give to the child. In this situation, a stepchild would not be considered a child of the deceased, and thus would not get a portion of the deceased’s estate.
Is there a way around this?
Aside from choosing to adopt your stepchildren, you could leave them gifts just like you might leave another person a gift. This gift could come in the form of specific amounts of money or specific objects, or it could be a percentage of your entire estate. Whatever you would like to leave them is up to you.
If you have more questions about what to leave your stepchildren in your will and how to go about doing this, please reach out to an attorney today.
Thanks to Yee Law Group, PC for their insight into creating a will with your stepchild in mind.