Can a Stepchild Inherit in Oklahoma?

by Andrine Redsteer

In Oklahoma, if a stepparent desires to leave part of his estate to his stepchildren, he must explicitly do so via a last will and testament. Oklahoma's laws of intestate succession explain that a stepchild is not entitled to an inheritance as a matter of course, unless the stepparent explicitly provides for his stepchild in his will.

General Policy

If you die without leaving a will, each state has laws, called "laws of intestate succession," outlining who can inherit your estate. These laws typically create inheritance rights only for your surviving spouse, your legal children -- by birth or adoption -- and certain collateral heirs, such as siblings, nieces, and nephews. Because stepchildren do not fall into any of these categories, they are not typically entitled to inherit pursuant to laws of intestate succession. In other words, if you wish to leave a stepchild an inheritance, you must make a will and specifically name the stepchild as a beneficiary in the will.

Stepchildren and Testamentary Devises

Stepchildren may inherit a portion of your estate if named in a last will and testament. Surviving spouses are entitled to at least half of your estate in Oklahoma, but any amount remaining may be left to your stepchildren as you see fit. In Oklahoma, if a stepparent favors a stepchild over his own children, he may disinherit his natural children in his will.

Stepchildren and Oklahoma Intestate Succession

Every state has laws of intestate succession which dictate who receives what in the event a decedent did not leave a will. Oklahoma's laws of intestate succession do not recognize a stepchild's right to a portion of her stepparent's estate. In other words, if a stepparent in Oklahoma forgets to leave a will devising a portion of his estate to his stepchild, the stepchild typically receives nothing.

Considerations

In Oklahoma, as in other states, if a parent leaves a will, but fails to leave any of his children a portion of his estate, the child may challenge the will in a probate court pursuant to Oklahoma's pretermitted heir statute. Generally, if a child is omitted without specific disinheritance language -- such as "I hereby disinherit my child...." -- a probate court is typically open to the argument that the parent merely forgot to include the child.