When parents begin their estate planning processes, they have many variables to consider, and it is always difficult to make decisions about which assets should go where. One variable that many of our clients want to think through is the possible addition of stepchildren to a will or estate plan. On today’s blog, we cover whether or not stepchildren are entitled to inherit the money and property that their stepparents leave behind.
In short, stepchildren only inherit a stepparent’s assets when those stepchildren are explicitly included in the stepparent’s will. Even if the stepparent lived with and cared for the stepchildren just as they would their own children, under the law, these stepchildren do not have automatic access to their stepparents’ assets. The decedent’s estate documents must lay out exactly which stepchildren inherit, as well as how much they are to inherit.
Similarly, if you have biological children that live elsewhere, those children might have automatic rights when you die, whether or not they are actively and currently involved in your life. For example, if you die without a will, the probate court could easily decide to distribute your assets to sons and daughters from which you are estranged. In the legal world of estate planning, it does not matter how close or distant you are from your biological children; they might have rights to your assets unless you stipulate otherwise in your will.
Deciding where your assets should be distributed can be a difficult process. In order to make that process as thoughtfully executed as possible, we recommend that you speak with an estate planning attorney that can walk you through all of your possible options. If you have stepchildren and you want to make sure they are properly cared for in the event of your death, you will need to make sure your estate planning documents thoroughly, clearly, and unequivocally state which those stepchildren are entitled to inherit. To make sure these documents are all above board, you should ask a trusted legal expert to help you through the drafting, finalizing, and executing of your will.
Are You in Need of an Estate Planning Attorney in Texas?
If you are in the process of considering various estate planning options, call our office at McCulloch & Miller today. Our Texas firm can help you and your family navigate the probate system, given our decades of experience, our holistic approach, and the individualized attention we provide for each client. When thinking through such important topics, you want only the best attorneys by your side – at McCulloch & Miller, we are proud to be those attorneys. For a phone consultation with a member of our team, give us a call today at 713-936-9073. You also have the option of filling out our online form to tell us about yourself and have an estate planning attorney reach back out to you as soon as possible.