How to Make a Will for Stepchildren

By Robin Elizabeth Margolis

An estimated 65 percent of all remarriages bring children from a prior marriage into a stepfamily, according to the National Stepfamily Resource Center. If you are a stepparent who wants to leave possessions and property to your stepchildren after you die, you need to specifically include them in your will, because the law does not give them the same automatic inheritance rights that it gives your biological and adopted children.

An estimated 65 percent of all remarriages bring children from a prior marriage into a stepfamily, according to the National Stepfamily Resource Center. If you are a stepparent who wants to leave possessions and property to your stepchildren after you die, you need to specifically include them in your will, because the law does not give them the same automatic inheritance rights that it gives your biological and adopted children.

Step 1

Review copies of your previous wills and other estate planning documents to see what parts you would need to update in addition to including the names of your stepchildren. Review your state's particular requirements for valid wills. FindLaw.com maintains a list of all 50 states' laws regarding wills on its website.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Step 2

Make a list of all of the possessions and properties that you wish to include in your new will and other estate planning documents.

Step 3

Discuss your plans for your stepchildren with your spouse who is their biological or adoptive parent. Coordinate the changes in your estate planning documents with your spouse's estate planning documents.

Step 4

Decide whether you wish to leave your stepchildren property and possessions in your will or whether you wish to provide for them through an annuity, trust or other income stream.

Step 5

Draft a new will and other estate planning documents, specifically mentioning your stepchildren by name.

Step 6

Date and sign your will in the presence of witnesses who are over the age of 18, not related to you and who are not mentioned in the will. Consult your state laws for information on how many witnesses you are required to have.

Step 7

Call your local probate or surrogate court and ask for information about filing your will with it for safekeeping. While your will does not have to be filed with a court until after your death, leaving the original with a court in your lifetime can insure that your wishes are carried out after you die.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
How to Exclude Stepchildren From Your Estate

References

Resources

Related articles

Children's Rights in Estate Wills

Your state’s laws determine who inherits your assets if you don’t have a valid will when you die; your spouse and children are among the first to receive property from your estate. However, you can change this “default” distribution scheme by creating a will describing how you want your property to be distributed. Your will can give inheritance rights to your children, though you cannot disinherit your spouse under most circumstances, even if you want to give his share to your children.

Legal Aid Dealing With Last Wills

Legal aid programs, including those run by nonprofits, universities and other sources, offer free or low-cost legal help for the poor. Many legal aid offices offer help with last wills and other estate-planning measures. Like any lawyer, a legal aid attorney will ask you for information about your assets and liabilities, children and other family when you make a will.

How Many Different Types of Wills Are There?

A will is a document that explains how to distribute your property after your death. There are several different types of wills, although not all types are valid in all states. In most cases, a will must be in writing and signed by the testator, or person making the will, as well as at least two witnesses. Consult an attorney to find out what types of wills are valid in your state.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Wills & Rights As a Stepchild

As a stepchild, you do not have the inheritance rights of a biological or adopted child. If your stepparent wants to ...

What Is the New Jersey Law Regarding Children Left Out of Wills?

Not all states allow you to intentionally disinherit your child, but New Jersey does, according to an article by ...

Are Stepchildren Considered Children in a Will?

Your stepchildren may be as close to you as your biological children, but their legal ties to you are different. When ...

How to Change Your Heirs in Your Will

In your will, you name an executor, the person who will manage your estate according to the distribution instructions ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED