Stepchildren (children that your partner has from another relationship) can sometimes make the will preparation process more complicated. In most states of Australia, stepchildren don't automatically get a right to inheritance from their non-biological parent (unless they have been legally adopted).
If you decide that you don't want a share of your estate to go to your stepchildren, you don't have to specify anything in your will. However, this may lead to disputes over your estate from your spouse and their side of the family. This piece will cover the steps that are involved in family law if you wish to portion some of your property to your stepchildren.
Issuing gifts to stepchildren
In legal terms, stepchildren are viewed in almost a similar manner as a friend or other person with no blood relation. You have the option of distributing your estate to stepchildren in any manner that you wish, as long as you specify it in your will. For example, you can assign a certain percentage of your estate to specific children, or leave certain items for them under their name.
Most parents of stepchildren take into consideration the estate of their other parent and their side of the family. Fore example, a father who has a stepdaughter may consider the estate of the father of the child when determining how much he should leave for the stepdaughter. In many cases, biological children will get a larger portion of your property than stepchildren because they will not receive a share from any other source.
When portioning estate for stepchildren, you should address them by their individual names. This helps to clear the ambiguity associated with terms such as heirs, descendants and children.
Explaining the decisions you made in your will
For large families that include stepchildren, it may be helpful to explain why you decided to divide the property the way you did. This can help to diffuse tensions after you pass away.
Start early and explain to family members the reasoning you used to craft your will. In this way, there will be minimal disagreements regarding how your estate is distributed.
Excluding your stepchild
If you wish to exclude a stepchild from your will, you can simply omit them from the document itself. However, a stepchild can end up with a portion of your estate through your spouse. This is most likely the case if your spouse is the biological parent of the child.
When you pass away, all or part of your estate will go to your spouse, and the stepchild is likely to receive a share through trusts, insurance policies, or other property. This may influence your decision to leave specific gifts for your stepchild.