Parents in second marriages may want to leave assets to their children and make sure that their stepchildren don’t inherit from their estate. If stepchildren do inherit part of your estate, it may create resentment leading to legal disputes that can cost the estate significantly in delay and attorney fees. Furthermore, when your stepchildren pass away, the part of your estate that goes to your stepchildren could end up going to people completely outside your family and possibly people you don't even know.
AOL’s recent article, “How to Protect Assets From Stepchildren,” shows how taking specific estate planning steps will let you effectively protect your assets from your stepchildren.
If a stepchild inherits some of your assets, your children may feel like they were cheated out of their rightful inheritance. This may lead them to contest any awards to stepchildren to protect their interests.
Your children will be recognized as heirs to your estate even without a will naming them as beneficiaries. Stepchildren don’t have the same rights. In most cases, they won’t inherit from a deceased stepparent’s estate unless specifically listed as beneficiaries in the will.
If your spouse from a second or later marriage dies first, you usually don’t have to do anything to prevent stepchildren from receiving assets you control.
However, stepchildren may receive assets from your estate if your spouse dies after you and leaves assets to their children. Preventing stepchildren from ever getting assets from your estate can be done. However, it requires definite action to exclude them as beneficiaries.
Even after an intestate death that happens without a valid will, stepchildren typically aren’t recognized as having any right to assets in the estate. However, some states grant stepchildren some rights of inheritance. Ask an experienced estate planning attorney about this.
In addition, a will can name specific people, including stepchildren, and exclude them from receiving benefits from the estate.
You can also use a Trust to prevent stepchildren from getting assets from your estate after you die. This can help avoid conflicts and potential litigation from children upset because stepchildren received assets from the estate.
Remember that if you fail to act, stepchildren can still benefit even at the expense of your children if, for example, you die before your spouse, who then names their children as beneficiaries of the estate. If you have any questions about how this article, feel free to schedule a phone call with East Valley estate planning attorney, Robert Larson.
Reference: AOL (April 26, 2023) “How to Protect Assets From Stepchildren”