The Step-Children: In Or Out Of The Will?

Life happens. Sometimes you get married more than once, and sometimes you have step-children. Then, you may decide that you want your birth or adopted children to inherit different portions of your estate than your step-children. When you have a blended family, it is particularly important that your Will not have any ambiguities. Otherwise, a Court will decide what you really meant to say in your Will.

Our office recently helped a client whose step-father had passed, but he had step-children from two marriages and no biological children. However, the Will (that our office did not prepare) referred to “children” generally. We had to file a Petition with the Court to make sure the step-father’s wishes were honored so the step-children inherited his assets. This could have been avoided if the Will had been more clear.

In a recent case, the Bucks County Court addressed a family dispute in which a grandfather and left a portion of his Estate to his step-grandchildren, but only if their grandmother, whom he had divorced in 2013, did not elect against his Will or recover anything during their divorce settlement. The language in the Will, however, was not entirely clear, and the step-grandchildren argued they were entitled to a portion of the Estate even though the grandmother had recovered assets during the divorce. The Court disagreed with the step-grandchildren and concluded that the grandfather intended for them only to inherit if their grandmother had not received anything.

This is why it is very important to work with an attorney to eliminate any possible confusion in your Will or any other estate documents.

Our office regularly prepares Wills, Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Healthcare Authorizations and other testamentary documents. We work with our clients to assure them that the language in their documents is clear and reflects exactly what they want. Plus, we will only charge you once! If you decide to make changes down the road, we will make the changes without charging you. Just give us a call at (610) 446-3457 or click here to send us an email.