In most situations, a stepchild will not inherit property from a step-parent after the step-parent dies. The step-child does stand to inherit from his or her biological parents, but all inheritances are dependent on the laws of the state in which you live. Talk to a your estate planning attorney for more detailed information.
- Intestacy: When you die without will, your stepchildren are very unlikely to inherit anything at all. In some states, step-children have no intestacy rights, while in others, a step-child is the last person who stands to inherit from a step-parent before the state does. This essentially means that if there is no spouse or biological relatives of the step-parent that survives him or her, the step-child inherits. If there is no step-child, or offspring of that child, the property goes to the state.
- Wills and Trusts: If you create a Will you can choose to leave as much property to your stepchildren as you like. Similarly, if you create a trust you can choose to name your stepchildren as beneficiaries so they can receive the benefit of the property you transfer to that trust. A person creating a Will can also choose not to leave anything to his or her children, including step-children.
- Adoption: While a step-child’s rights to inherit from a step-parent are much more limited than the parent’s children, a step-child that a step-parent adopts has the same right to inherit as any other child. State inheritance laws do not differentiate between children and adopted children, even if the adopted children are former step children.