Now that you’ve remarried, and your spouse has children, it’s probably occurred to you that it’s time to create or update your estate plan. This is an important thing to do, as an estate planning lawyer might tell you. By making your final wishes clear well in advance of your passing, you can help ease the confusion and pain of those you leave behind. We encourage you to speak with an estate planning lawyer to learn the many ways we can be of assistance.
Inheritance Laws and Step-Children
It may surprise you to learn that unless you legally adopt your step-children, they do not automatically inherit anything from you if you pass away without leaving behind a will or trust. However, your biological and adopted children do have certain rights in the absence of estate planning arrangements. If this concerns you because you want to share your legacy with your step-children, it’s a good reason to meet with an estate planning lawyer. We can help you take care of those you love.
Leaving Assets to Your Step-Children
You can leave as little or as much of your assets to your step-children as you wish, as long as you specify your wishes in a will or trust. This is something that an estate planning lawyer, like an estate attorney Cherry Hill, NJ residents look to, will be very happy to assist you with and can make the process very easy for you. Your estate planning lawyer may suggest that when designating which child should receive which items or cash, that you name each person in the will be their name. By avoiding broad terms like “my children” or “my heirs” it eliminates the possibility of confusion in wondering if you meant biological children, or biological children as well as step-children.
Establishing a Trust That Includes Your Step-Children
When you meet with an estate planning lawyer, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about tools in addition to wills such as a trust. For some people, it is ideal to create a trust in addition to a will. For others, a simple will answers their needs while still others only create a trust. Each person’s needs are different, as the details of their particular circumstances are unique. Your estate planning lawyer will provide you guidance that reflects your best interests.
There are several kinds of trusts that you can create, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. For some, the disadvantages are negligible, but it’s important to understand your options. Many lawyers offer a free consultation to those wishing to create a lasting legacy for their beneficiaries. Call us to request an appointment with a skilled estate planning lawyer who can explain your options to you so that you can make an informed decision. With a trust established, your step-children can benefit in any of the following ways that you choose:
- A trust will enable your step-children to inherit your specified assets without having to undergo the probate process which is an additional cost and requires time to complete.
- If you appoint your step-child as the beneficiary of one or more of your financial accounts, such as a life insurance policy, they can inherit those assets and avoid probate.
- A special needs trust for your step-child will allow them to continue to receive any government disability benefits they are already receiving.
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Thanks to our friends and contributors from Klenk Law for their insight into estate planning.