In today's society it is not uncommon to have blended families. In many cases, blended families function the same as a nuclear biological family. Both parents feel a responsibility to all of the children, and many stepparents consider their stepchildren their own. What you may not know is that when you create your estate plan, the state will view your stepchildren very different from your biological children. This is why it is so important that you make extra measures to include your stepchildren in your estate plan if you wish.
The Difference between Biological and Step Children According to the State
If you die without an estate plan your estate will be divided up between your biological children equally. If you have three children they will each get a third. It doesn't matter if one child is estranged, or even if they are in prison. They are entitled to the estate because of blood. If one of the biological children has preceded the parent in death, their portion will be equally divided to their heirs. If the child has no offspring, their portion will be divided amongst the other children.
For stepchildren it is completely different. If you are not biologically related to the child, they will receive nothing according to the state. That means if you die without any estate plan, a stepchild will be completely left out of the property.
How Can You Protect Your Stepchildren?
If you want to leave part of your estate to your stepchildren you need to specifically mention it in your estate plan. You will have to name the child and explicitly explain what you want to give to them. Unlike biological children, if a stepchild precedes you in death, part of your property does not pass automatically to their children. This is why if you want the property to go to your step-grandchildren you need to once again explain that and give property to the individual(s) by name.
Are There Special Provisions for Adopted Children?
Luckily, if you have legally adopted a child, they are entitled to everything in your estate plan as if they had been biologically yours. Their children are considered blood relatives, so the children of your adopted child will also be cared for.
Although you need to take special measures to accommodate your stepchildren, it can easily be done by working with the right attorney. Contact an estate lawyer through a firm like Price & Associates for more information.