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Ensuring stepchildren do not automatically inherit from you

On Behalf of | May 17, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Finding love a second time after a divorce can be a wonderful experience in your life, but it can also add greater complications to your estate planning. If you marry a new spouse who has children from a previous relationship, you should consider how to keep control over your estate, or your new stepchildren might end up with some of your property.

If you grow close to your stepchildren, it is fine to grant them an inheritance if you wish. However, you may have reasons to give certain property and money only to your biological children.

Create beneficiary designations

It is possible to attach a pay-on-death provision to certain kinds of property. After your death, your asset will pay out to the person you select as the beneficiary, so this is a good opportunity to name your biological children as the designees.

There are also other assets that already come with beneficiary designations, such as life insurance policies. As you check these to ensure your biological offspring are on the policies, you can also make sure your ex-spouse is not still named on an asset if you do not want it.

Name your children in your will

When composing or changing your will, you have the authority to make your children your heirs. Not putting the names of your stepchildren in the will should be enough to remove them from consideration. Still, as an added measure, you may consider stipulating that your stepchildren will not obtain your assets following your death.

Put assets in a trust

Many people create a trust because it offers greater control over distributing assets. It can do likewise for someone with a blended family. After composing a trust and funding it, you can choose someone you trust to act as trustee, to distribute the assets to your offspring as you wish.

A trust also has the added benefit of privacy. Your stepchildren may contest your estate if they learn of your intentions through a will. By contrast, a trust does not become public record. So knowledge of your inheritance plans will remain limited to certain parties, including the trustee and your trust beneficiaries.

Preparing your estate after remarriage can be a sensitive topic, so it is worth exploring all the available estate planning options to make sure your children do not lose out on their intended inheritance, while making some provision for your stepchildren if you choose.