Attorneys Stephen Korshak and Lee Karina Dani

Can I exclude stepchildren from my will?

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2020 | Estate Administration |

If you are a surviving spouse and you have stepchildren from that marriage, it is likely that your late spouse wanted your will to include them. During your spouse’s lifetime, you may have even discussed setting up a trust in which all of your children and stepchildren are named as beneficiaries.

If you did not set up a trust in your spouse’s lifetime, it’s probably the case that you have complete control over what happens to your assets and the assets you inherited from your spouse at the end of their life. While it may have been expected of you to leave assets to your stepchildren, you may, for one reason or another, no longer want to. The following are things that you should consider in this scenario.

If you don’t leave a will, stepchildren will probably not gain an inheritance

If you die intestate, meaning that you pass away without a will in place, your assets will go to your next of kin. In most states, stepchildren are not counted as children during the process of intestate succession. Even though this is the case, it’s highly advisable that you create a will so that your wishes can be followed.

You should create a specific document if you do not wish to include your stepchildren in your will

If you do not want to include your stepchildren or a specific stepchild in your will, that is completely your choice. To make your intentions absolutely clear, you should write a statement in your will to name the stepchildren whom you do not want to gain an inheritance. This will prevent the omission from being challenged as a mistake or an oversight.

Your relationship with your stepchildren may have changed significantly after your spouse passed away. Whether you want to include them in your will or not is completely your choice, and no one should make you feel differently. It’s important that you draft your will so that it is not challenged at the end of your lifetime.