You naturally want to leave your earthly possessions to the people you love when you pass away.
But how do you do that when your family is made up of multiple marriages with children from each of them?
- Are your considerations for who receives your estate when you pass away still the same?
- Do you want to leave money. or personal or real property to a stepchild?
Here are some tips on how to write a will when you have stepchildren.
“Unless you’ve adopted them, your stepchildren have no legal right to an inheritance from you – even if you die without a will.” -lawyers.com
That means that in order to inherit, you must specifically name them in your will and estate plan.
How to Write a Will When You Have Stepchildren
You can put your stepchildren into your will as simply as with any other person you want to inherit. Just leave them specific gifts under their individual names, or designate a percentage of your estate to them.
In any case, as you do with ANY biological children, you will want to refer to each stepchild by name and be clear about your wishes. To make sure this is all correctly recorded, choose an estate planning attorney who can draft the necessary documents for you.
There are other ways you can name a stepchild as a beneficiary as well:
Create a Trust
You can create a trust and make them the executor or beneficiary.
Create a Special-Needs Trust
You can create a special-needs trust for stepchildren who are minors or who are challenged either physically or mentally.
Add to your Life Insurance Policy
Or you can put your stepchildren on your life insurance policy.
These are all areas of estate planning your attorney will help you with.
Blended families bring additional challenges that purely biological families often don’t face, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Here at The Law Office Joshua E. Hummer, we often work with blended families. When we meet, we’ll talk about you and your family relationships.
- Do you feel you have tight-knit interpersonal relationships with all of your family members?
- Are there concerns with one or more people in your “new” family?
- Have you considered adopting your stepchild or stepchildren?
You’ll need to evaluate these family dynamics when deciding how to write a will when you have stepchildren.
Marital Bypass Trust
When writing a will when you have stepchildren, you may want to leave them out on purpose, and leave all or a portion of your estate to your surviving spouse. Or you may want to create a trust that allows your surviving spouse to use your property, like your home, for the rest of their lives.
Your spouse will never own this property and cannot sell it. Once your spouse dies, the property then passes on to your beneficiaries, whether they be biological family or stepchildren. This is called a “marital bypass trust.”