It is not a certainty that your stepchildren will inherit any of your assets when you die. In this modern day you may think that it is a shocking state of affairs, however, it can easily happen if you don’t prepare whilst you have the opportunity to make a Will, or on the other hand, if your Will doesn’t contain the right wording.
I don’t have a will!
Well! If you don’t have a Will at all, then the situation is clear-cut. Your stepchildren won’t inherit anything. This is all related to the fact that the law covering this area is the Administration of Estates Act, which dates back to 1925.
The Administration of Estates Act contains the intestacy rules, this governs what happens when you die, and you don’t have a Will.
As stated above, this law was written in 1925, then morals of the day were rather different from the twenty-first century. It was deemed then that strong family ties were the order of the day which resulted in only blood relatives benefiting when a family member dies.
This can all be avoided by writing a Will and leaving your estate as you so wish.
But…..My Estate should go to my children?
Don’t assume that your stepchildren will be included if your Will states that your Estate should go to your children. In the eyes of the law, the word ‘children’ encompasses biological children only.
In our modern day of ‘blended families’ you would probably naturally think of your stepchildren as your biological children being one of the same.
However, you do need to mention stepchildren specifically. In other words, you say in your Will that you wish to leave your estate to your ‘children and stepchildren’.
You have two ways of wording your wishes regarding your children and stepchildren. It can either be in the generic term as mentioned above or by specific names and clarifying if their relationship to you is as a child or stepchild.
Life may not be as perfect as we wish it. In blended families, stepparents and stepchildren may not always see eye to eye and it’s not uncommon for Wills to be rewritten to favour biological children after the death of a partner.
Therefore, is there a solution to how you can ensure that your biological children benefit from your Estate after your death?
I want my biological children to benefit
The answer is YES! This is done by setting up a Trust in your Will. By doing this, it would ensure that both your children and stepchildren would get an equal share, if of course, that is what you want.
Your partner can also be a trustee and benefit from the assets. Post your death, your partner could still have the opportunity to live in the house, for example, providing it is set out in the Trust within your Will.
However, since the Trust owns the assets, a partner wouldn’t be able to exclude stepchildren by rewriting their Will after your death, leaving your biological children nothing.
At Will Writing & Estate Planning Services, we use the term ‘bloodline planning’, simply meaning ‘keeping it in the family’ so that they benefit from your wishes once you have passed away.
To find out more and book your FREE consultation – your home / online or at our office.
contact us on 01392 540 996.