How to Ensure Your Stepchildren Receive an Inheritance

Whether you’re creating a will or an entire estate plan, there are some challenges you may encounter when stepchildren are involved. Nearly 60% of people in the U.S. don’t have a will despite the need for one when providing an inheritance to stepchildren or any other beneficiaries. You have several options available to you if you want to provide stepchildren with an inheritance.

What Happens if You Don’t Create a Will?

In the event that you pass away without having created a will, this is referred to as dying intestate, which is governed by intestate succession laws in New Jersey. In this situation, it’s likely that your spouse would receive a considerable sum of your money with any descendants also receiving an intestate share of your assets. However, you won’t have direct control over how these assets are distributed, which is why you should consider creating a will as part of your estate plan.

Stepchild Rights for Getting an Inheritance

If you would like your stepchild to receive an inheritance, you should include their name in the will that you create. While intestate laws have guidelines on how many assets stepchildren should receive, it’s possible to effectively exclude your stepchildren from receiving an inheritance with the wrong wording in your will.

Let’s say that you’ve stated that your children should divide most of your assets evenly. If you happen to have biological children as well as one or more stepchildren, only listing “children” as beneficiaries means that your stepchildren wouldn’t receive an inheritance regardless of your intent. It’s possible for stepchildren to be included in a will by writing down their name as well as the relationship that they have with you.

Inheritance Options for Your Stepchildren

There are numerous options you can use when you want to provide your stepchildren with an inheritance, but you first need to list them properly in your last will and testament. Along with the name of each stepchild, it’s possible to include a specific amount or percentage of your assets that you want your stepchildren to have.

You can also create a trust with your stepchildren being named beneficiaries. The main difference between trusts and wills is that a trust doesn’t need to be taken through the probate process, which means that your beneficiaries would receive their share of your assets without too much delay.

When it comes to a case of dying without a will in New Jersey, your stepchildren would only inherit some or all of your assets if you have no other relatives. If you want to make sure that your stepchildren gain some of your assets after you die, a will or trust should be made.

You could also consider naming a stepchild as a beneficiary of a specific policy, plan, or property that you’re currently maintaining. This option applies to:

  • Life insurance policies
  • Pension plans
  • Retirement accounts
  • Checking/savings accounts
  • Any titled property

When to Request Our Assistance

Since you have numerous options available to you when trying to determine how to make sure your stepchildren receive an inheritance, it’s highly recommended that you get in touch with our New Jersey estate planning lawyer to create a comprehensive estate plan. If you have a considerable amount of assets to your name, making an estate plan can be complicated without legal assistance. Using incorrect wording or submitting the wrong documents could create problems when it comes time to distribute your assets.

When people retain our law firm, we work closely with them to craft a proper estate plan that takes every possibility into account. Our lawyers can help you understand the various strategies at your disposal as well as the steps you can take to provide your stepchildren with an inheritance. Once you’ve made the decision on how your assets will be divided and distributed among beneficiaries, we’ll prepare the necessary documents.

Our lawyers can also give you advice on how to handle the tax implications that are associated with estate plans. For instance, some or most of your assets will be taken through the probate process to make sure that any remaining creditors are paid. In the event that your assets go through probate, it can take some time until your beneficiaries receive the inheritance you’ve set aside for them. If you hire our estate planning attorneys, we can represent you during this entire process.

If you want to be certain that your stepchildren receive an inheritance, call our New Jersey estate planning lawyers today at (201) 996-1200 to request a consultation.