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The Importance Of Including Stepchildren In Your Estate Plan


Estate plans are always an important tool but if you have stepchildren, you must take extra care with yours to ensure your stepchild receives any inheritance you wish to leave them. If you have not legally adopted your stepchild, they do not have any automatic rights to any inheritance you may wish to leave them. Due to this, you must include them in your estate plan. Our St. Petersburg estate planning lawyer explains how to do this below.

The Inheritance Laws for Children in Florida

When a person passes away and does not leave behind a will or estate plan, their children have very strong inheritance rights. However, the people the law considers as your children may be very different from your own thoughts on the matter. Although blended families that include stepchildren are becoming more common today, the law still has a long way to go to catch up to the trend.

Biological children have automatic rights to their parents’ estate. The only exception to this is if the biological parents have had their rights terminated and another person has adopted the child. Children who have been legally adopted enjoy the same rights as biological children. In these cases, the adopted child then does not have any right to the estate of their biological parents.

Stepchildren who have not been legally adopted by their stepparent have no legal intestate rights. You can leave property, assets, and wealth to your stepchildren, but you must create an estate plan that clearly identifies who you want to receive these portions of the estate. Always be very specific and mention ‘stepchildren’ instead of just ‘children.’ Without an estate plan, your stepchildren will not receive anything.

How to Include Stepchildren in an Estate Plan

Fortunately, you can avoid the challenges of the intestate laws by simply creating an estate plan that includes your stepchildren. The following steps can help ensure they are protected:

  • Update your will, or draft a will, that specifically mentions your stepchildren and the inheritance they are to receive.
  • Update or create a trust or other designation document that includes your stepchildren and the property you want them to receive.
  • Review your insurance policies, retirement accounts, and anything else that has beneficiaries designated and change them to include your stepchildren.
  • Consider appointing a stepchild as power of attorney who can make financial and medical decisions on your behalf.
  • Consider appointing a stepchild as the personal representative of your estate.

Our Estate Planning Lawyer in St. Petersburg Can Help with Your Case

Blended families really are a blessing but when it comes to creating your estate plan, there are some special considerations. At Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, our St. Petersburg estate planning lawyer can review your goals with you and create the appropriate documents to ensure everyone in your family, including your stepchildren, are protected. Call us at 727-471-5868 or reach out to us online to schedule a consultation and to learn more about how we can help protect you and your loved ones.



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