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How to ensure stepchildren are part of your estate plan

| Jun 14, 2019 | Uncategorized |

With divorce and remarriage more common than ever before, the number of blended families is rising.

Maybe you and your spouse both have children from a previous relationship, and are now married, living with all the kids under one roof. Or maybe one of you didn’t have kids before, but enthusiastically took on the role of stepmom or stepdad, helping to raise and care for the child to the best of your abilities.

It’s an exciting time. It’s also an opportunity to create or revisit your estate plan, because the stepchild you love so much may be left with nothing if you aren’t careful.

The simplest solution

Having a will provides some assurances, because it allows you to be specific with requests. If you want some of your estate to go to a stepchild, you just need to specify so in your will.

An attorney can help change your current estate plan to include a stepchild. They can also help you create a will for the first time, if you’ve never done so.

While the requirements for a legal will appear simple there are ways they could be challenged, particularly if it is a handwritten will. An attorney can help ensure your surviving spouse, children, stepchildren and other loved ones receive exactly what you want to give them.

If you don’t have a will

If you die intestate – meaning, without a will – the dividing of the estate will follow Nebraska inheritance law. The state has guidelines to decide who gets what percentage of your property, and those guidelines mean you get no say in how your assets are divided.

Nebraska’s guidelines call for dividing the estate among a spouse, children, and parents, depending on who survived the deceased. The law does not, however, include considerations for unadopted stepchildren.

That means even if your stepson or stepdaughter lived under your loving care for years, they would not be in line to get anything through Nebraska inheritance laws if you die intestate.

Adoption changes things

If you legally adopted the child, then Nebraska inheritance rules treat that son or daughter as a birth child. If you die without a will, that adopted child will be included and receive a share as determined by the law. Of course if you do have a will, you can specify everything to the exact level of detail you’d like.

Untimely tragedies happen. It’s an unfortunate fact of life. It’s important to make sure everyone in your family – no matter how you came together – is considered in your estate plan.