Stepchildren’s inheritance rights – Our San Jose Estate Planning Attorneys know that many of our clients are part of a blended family. One of the questions that often is asked during probate is, “as a stepchild, am I able to inherit from the estate?”
What California inheritance laws say about stepchildren’s inheritance rights
Unfortunately, unless a stepchild is provided for specifically in an estate plan, the stepchild will in most cases not have the same inheritance rights as a biological child or adopted child. However, January 1, 1994 a law did become effective stating that a stepchild could inherit from their stepparent if (a) the relationship began while the child was a minor and continued through the joint lifetimes of the child and stepparent, and (b) it is clear through evidence that the stepparent would have adopted the child but for a legal barrier.
Unfortunately, that second tier is harder to overcome. If there was no legal barrier to adoption, then the stepchild would still be prohibited from inheriting from the estate through probate.
Making specific provisions for stepchildren in the estate plan
Many stepchildren feel that they should have as much right to inheritance as any other child, and many stepparents would have wanted their stepchild to inherit with their other children. However, stepchildren are often disappointed, to put mildly, to discover that if their stepparent did not make specific provision for them in their estate plan, that they will be unable to inherit from that parent.
It is important for stepparents, and stepchildren, to understand how California inheritance laws work so that they can take the necessary steps to plan for their stepchild if they wish for them to be included in their estate plan. It is essential to speak with one of our qualified San Jose estate planning attorneys to ensure that your estate plan is in place, and ensures that your stepchild/stepchildren will be provided for if you were to pass away. To speak with one of our San Jose estate planning lawyers, please call (800) 244-8814.