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A sihloutte of an elderly couple walking, one with a cane, and the other holding an umbrella; our Wills Solicitors in Preston discuss Will arrangements for Stepchildren.
When a person dies without a Will, their estate is distributed according to the rules of intestacy. These rules specify a strict order of who is entitled to inherit, primarily focusing on the deceased’s immediate blood relatives, starting with a spouse or civil partner, and then progressing to children, including adopted children, and other more remote descendants. If the deceased does not have any of these, other blood or legally adopted relatives can inherit. Our Wills Solicitors in Preston discuss the position of stepchildren in the intestacy rules. 
A yellow pen resting on a blue background; our Wills Solicitors in Preston can be contacted by completing the contact us form here.

Contact our Wills Solicitors in Preston 

The Position of Stepchildren under the Intestacy Rules 

Under current intestacy laws in England and Wales, stepchildren do not inherit from a stepparent’s estate unless they have been legally adopted by that stepparent. The law recognises biological and legally adopted children as eligible under the Rules, but does not extend the same right to stepchildren, unless those stepchildren are legally adopted into the family. This can be heart breaking for the surviving stepchildren, especially when their stepparent was treated as their parent for their lifetimes. 

How can the intestacy rules impact stepchildren? 

If a person dies intestate, leaving a spouse and biological children, the spouse receives the first £322,000 of the estate and all personal possessions, as well as all jointly owned assets. The remainder of the estate over this amount is shared equally between the spouse and any children, with 50% to the spouse and 50% to the children equally. In the category of children, stepchildren would not receive anything in this category either. 

Legal Options and Advice 

For stepchildren who have been treated as a child of the family by the deceased stepparent, especially from a young age, and there was an expectation set or dependency formed, they might be able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. This is particularly relevant where the stepchild was financially dependent on the stepparent or there was a close familial relationship. This can sometimes be of no help, however, as it is still up to the discretion of the Court, ultimately, if no other agreement can be reached, as to whether the stepchild is granted an award from the estate. If you believe you could be entitled to benefit from a person’s estate after their death, and you are considering making an Inheritance Act claim, you need to seek advice from specialist Contentious Probate Solicitors. 
 
Whilst our Wills Solicitors in Preston do not assist with these claims, we can assist with the preparation of your Will, to ensure that your stepchildren benefit from your estate without needing to incur unnecessary legal costs and go through the time-consuming process of an estate claim. 

Protecting Stepchildren’s Inheritance 

For individuals in step families, this ‘gap’ in the law that could cause some families issues after the death of their loved one highlights the importance of making a Will to ensure that stepchildren are provided for according to their wishes. Without a Will, stepchildren could be left with no inheritance rights under intestacy laws. Writing a Will allows you to specify exactly how you want your estate to be distributed and can ensure that those you consider to be family, regardless of legal ties, are adequately provided for after your death. 

Make a Will with Wills Solicitors in Preston 

The best way to ensure that the people you want benefit from your estate after your death is to prepare a Will with expert Wills Solicitors in Preston. Even if you believe your estate is ‘small’ and you do not need a Will, this does not make any claim by your stepchild easier to deal with if you die without a valid Will. In fact, the costs of making a claim could exceed the value of your estate, meaning your estate might end up passing to remote family who you may not have seen for years. You can read more about the intestacy rules, here, and the sideways disinheritance of stepchildren, here. 
 
To consult with our Wills Solicitors in Preston about making a Will, call 01772 783314 or email wills@mglegal.co.uk and chat with our Wills Solicitors, Naomi, and Hope Jordan (Trainee Wills Solicitor), to arrange an appointment. 

Solicitors for the Elderly Accredited 

SRA Regulated Solicitors 

Decades of experience 

Out-of-hours appointments 

Home visits available 

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