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Do I Have to Include My Stepchildren In My Illinois Estate Plan?

 Posted on August 16, 2022 in Estate Planning

IL estate lawyerWhile many stepparents come to have close relationships with their stepchildren, other stepparents do not nor even wish to. Step-families are often a complex mix of histories, emotions, grievances, and perceived injuries, making warm relationships difficult to establish and nurture.

Whether one feels positively or otherwise about his stepchildren, when it comes to estate planning, certain questions must be answered. Does a stepparent need to specifically address stepchildren in the estate plan? Is a stepparent a terrible person if they choose to specifically exclude their stepchildren or even one particular stepchild? If you are learning more about creating an estate plan, read on and then contact our Illinois estate planning attorneys for skilled legal assistance.

Do Stepchildren Have Rights to an Estate?

The good news for stepparents who are not interested in making their stepchildren part of the estate plan is that, unless they are adopted, stepchildren have no inheritance rights. Even if they are not mentioned in an individual’s will, stepchildren do not have standing to claim an inheritance from a stepparent. Stepchildren who are adopted are treated the same as biological children.

However, for stepparents who are close with their stepchildren, adoption is not always an option. In this case, a carefully crafted and up-to-date will or trust is the best way to protect any inheritance you wish to give your stepchildren. A well-written estate plan is also the best way to ensure conflict between surviving spouses, children, and stepchildren is avoided.

An estate plan can be highly specific about a stepparent’s wishes. It may specify exactly how assets will be distributed among stepchildren and biological children, as well as who is responsible for managing assets for minor children.

Nobody but the creator of the will is responsible for its contents. The document exists to protect personal wishes; only you can decide what is best for your estate. If you wish to include all your stepchildren on equal footing with your biological children, you may do that; likewise, if you are particularly close with one stepchild and not with another, you, in good conscience, can reflect that in your will. It is important for an estate plan to be comprehensive and up-to-date, because stepchildren may be able to contest a will if they are named beneficiaries of a prior will.

Contact a Lombard, IL Estate Planning Attorney

Your financial plans for your children and step-children deserve to be protected with an airtight estate plan, crafted by a team of experienced, judgment-free DuPage County estate planning lawyers. At A. Traub & Associates, our job is to ensure your preferences are respected and preserved and we will work until you are satisfied with your estate plan. Call us today at 630-426-0196 to schedule a comprehensive consultation and learn more about what we can do for you.



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