Question 1: What will my stepchildren inherit from me?
It all depends on the estate planning choices you make. However, under the law, stepchildren are not entitled to inherit from you automatically. Only biological children and other relatives can inherit from your estate if you die without leaving behind a will or other estate planning mechanism. This means that if you die without creating an estate plan your step children will be left without an inheritance from you, even though they are entitled to receive an inheritance from their biological parents.
Question 2: Will my spouse have to leave an inheritance to my own children?
No. Your spouse can make any estate planning choices he or she wants, including opting not to leave your children an inheritance. If you make an estate plan you can choose to effectively “disinherit” any child you wish. If, for example, you die first without an estate plan, your spouse will automatically receive a portion of your state, and possibly the entire thing. After that he or she can choose to use that property in any way, including not leaving any of it to your children.
Question 3: Can I choose what to leave my children or stepchildren?
Absolutely. If you create a will, various types of trusts, establish transfer on death beneficiary transfers, or use other kinds of estate planning tools you can ensure both your children and your stepchildren receive the kind of inheritance you wish to leave. If you fail to make a plan your children or stepchildren might be left out.
You can learn more about advanced estate planning techniques you can use if you live in a blended family situation at one of our upcoming free living trust seminars. The next will be on October 23, and 24th, in Vero Beach in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The seminars are free but space is limited so contact our offices for registration details.