Having stepchildren can complicate your estate planning decisions. While it is natural to provide for your loved ones after you die, disputes can arise between you and your spouse regarding the inheritance of stepchildren.
You are under no legal obligation to leave anything to stepchildren, but you may consider including them out of respect or love for your relationship with them.
The problems that could arise
When you make a will, you determine who receives your property, assets and other items after you die. If you have both blood-related children and stepchildren, things can get complicated. Your blood relations may challenge the contents of the will out of jealousy, anger or frustration. The inheriting spouse could experience resentment from the stepchildren who suffered the loss of their parent.
Leaving an inheritance to your children is your right, regardless of any pressure you may feel from the spouse who brought the stepchildren into the marriage. If you feel a responsibility to the stepchildren, there are ways to look after their needs as well as your own children.
The options for protecting all children
You can use a will or trust to protect the assets you want your biological to receive after your death. You can also protect your spouse from angry stepchildren this way as well. You can set up a trust with your spouse named as the trustee. If this could still cause conflict, name a third party to act as trustee.
How you divide your assets in the event of your death is your business. Emotions often guide estate planning decisions, but make sure your decisions have legal support to avoid being challenged.