As blended families are becoming more common, it is important to remember that stepparents need to add special provisions into their estate plan if they would like their estate to benefit their stepchildren. A recent article discusses estate planning considerations when stepchildren are involved.

Under state probate laws, stepchildren and biological children are treated differently. One important difference in legal treatment is that, if a parent fails to acknowledge his or her stepchildren in his or her will, the stepchildren will be left out. Not only do you need to acknowledge stepchildren in your will, but you must also acknowledge them throughout your will in any place where your children are mentioned.

In one instance, a will named all the decedent’s children and stepchildren, and divided the estate equally between them. In a later paragraph in the will, however, the decedent split all of his personal property between “my children.” Although he likely meant to include the stepchild here as well, the stepchild could have easily been left with nothing. In that case, the family was able to reach a family settlement that included the stepchild.

If you intend to include any stepchildren in your will as though they were biological children, be sure to make this clear to your estate planning attorney.

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