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What Is The Difference Between Children and Stepchildren When It Comes To Your Will?

Although in ‘real life’ it is probable that you view your children and your stepchildren in similar (if not identical) terms, from a legal point of view they are entirely different. Stepchildren don’t have any legal rights to inherit anything from their stepparents’ estates, and unless they are specifically mentioned within your will they won’t get anything. This is even true in the case of intestacy where you die without a will. If this happens, the rules of intestacy are called into action, and there is a specific series of people to whom the estate is given. Stepchildren do not feature in that list.

Unlike biological or adopted children, stepchildren have to be mentioned by name specifically within the pages of your will. This is particularly important in these days of blended families when more and more people are combining two families into one. Without knowing these details, simply writing that you want your estate to be split between your children might, to you, include your stepchildren, but in legal terms, it would not. This would obviously case hard feeling and upset.

Of course, if you don’t want to leave anything to your stepchildren then you don’t legally have to. It is best, in this case, to write a separate letter that stays with your will pointing out that this is your intention. If you don’t it might be assumed that you made an error, and the stepchildren might, therefore, apply for an amendment to the will, or even contest it because they were expecting to receive some form of inheritance. This additional letter will make it clear that you understand what you were writing in your will and that it really is your final wish.

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