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How Should You Deal with Stepchildren in Your Will?

It is important to note that your stepchildren do not have any legal right to inheriting assets or property from you after you pass away unless you have legally adopted them. Thus, if you do not want to leave anything behind to them, you don’t need to take any specific action.

If you do want to leave property to your stepchildren, however, you’ll need include them in your estate plan, just as you would leave property to anyone else. You may either leave your stepchildren a percentage of the value of your estate or provide them with certain gifts.

If you have biological children in addition to your stepchildren, you should avoid using terms such as “heirs,” “children,” or “descendants” to refer to them, as this could cause confusion as to whether you mean your stepchildren or biological children. Instead, name each stepchild and biological child individually.

In addition to leaving stepchildren assets through a will, you may also leave them gifts in the following ways:

  • Naming the stepchild as a beneficiary of a trust to help avoid probate
  • Providing for your stepchild with special needs using a special needs trust (if he or she is eligible for federal disability benefits)
  • Name your stepchild as a beneficiary of your life insurance policy or a payable-on-death financial account

Again, if you do not want to leave anything to your stepchildren, you do not have to do anything. However, your stepchildren could ultimately receive some of your property via your partner or spouse, so if you specifically want to keep your stepchildren from receiving anything, you may need to add stipulations into your will.

For further information and guidance on estate planning in Florida, meet with a skilled Florida attorney at The Charles Law Offices.

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