Blended families are increasingly common, and yet many people don’t know how to approach the subject of estate planning for previous children as well as children in the new marriage. Finding a knowledgeable estate planning attorney in your state is very important for verifying that you take care of all of the beneficiaries in your life, whether or not they are your biological or adopted children.
There are legal distinctions in many states between biological and adoptive children and stepchildren. If you do want your stepchildren included in your estate plan, you should not rely on your state to do this for you. You should instead work with an experienced estate planning lawyer to discuss what you hope to accomplish in the plan and what tools you will use to make that happen. A dedicated estate planning attorney can help you to avoid many of the most common pitfalls associated with estate planning for stepchildren. If an estate plan, for example, automatically defaults to give everything to your spouse, and the spouse passes away before you, the term children in your will may only refer to biological children.
No matter what your family situation, you want to know that your estate plan accomplishes what is most important to you.
Unless your trust or will specifically include stepchildren or names them directly, this could lead to confusion or unnecessary disputes in probate court. The support of an experienced and qualified attorney is extremely important for accomplishing all of your estate planning goals. Make sure that you identify a legal team who understands and recognizes the unique role that stepchildren may play in your life and in your overall estate plan.