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Making A Will With Step-Children Or Split Families

Making A Will

In many modern families, it is often the case that one or both of the parents have children from a previous marriage, and so a family often comprises of step children, who belong to either the man or the woman. Many step parents will often form deep and lasting emotional bonds with their step-sons or daughters and will want to leave their estates or a lump sum to them in their wills. But the processes for doing this is slightly different than it is usually for children who aren’t directly yours, but what are the differences?

How does making a will usually work?

In a standard will, the parent making it will make certain provisions to ensure that their child, as the direct descendant, receives the entirety of their estate and all their worldly possessions, by stating in their will that this is their wish. This means that when the parent passes and the will activates, the child is left everything with often or little to no contest, as it was stipulated in the will that the direct descendant would inherit everything.

How does the will process work with stepchildren?

The process is slightly different when dealing with step-children as opposed to blood relatives. While children are automatically part of the will and inherit the estate and the money automatically as part of the will process, step children are not entitled to anything left by the parent or step-parent without being mentioned in the will, as the laws aren’t the same for step-children. Step-children will receive nothing unless referred to by name in the will, and it’s not uncommon for step-children to contest the will of the step-parent if they feel that they’re missing out on whatever they’ve been owed. The rules which ensure that your biological children automatically inherit all of your possessions do not apply to step-children unless you have formally adopted the child as your own, so it is important to make preparations to adopt, should you wish to leave your possessions or your estate to your step-child once you pass away.

What about with split families?

When dealing with a family that isn’t whole anymore, the processes are slightly different. Obviously, you aren’t going to want to leave anything to your divorced significant other, because they’re no longer an important part of your life, but your children from that marriage will be. When you remarry, if you choose to follow that path, the will is usually rewritten to accommodate your new wife or husband. This doesn’t automatically stretch to include the children you bring from previous relationships, however, so you need to explicitly stipulate that you’ve chosen to have them inherit your possessions or estate if you decide to do so.

Overall, the legal processes that change when you make a will to include a step-child aren’t especially complex, but require attention and care to be taken when you construct the will, particularly in regards to how it’s worded, to ensure that no one can contest the will and challenge your wishes once you’re gone. Stepchildren, no matter how precious and beloved they are to you, are not automatically put into your will and have no claim to anything once you’ve passed. In this way, it is important to stipulate in your will precisely what you want your step-children to inherit from you once you have passed, and in some cases it’s not a bad idea to seek a legal professional like a solicitor, to check your will and to ensure that you’ll be able to leave your step-children whatever you desire them to have without fear that the will can be contested and the possessions or money denied to them.

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