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Probate Involving Stepchildren And Stepparents

The settling of an estate, especially after a long life, always contains potential for uncertainties and disputes involving estate administrators and creditors, business partners, beneficiaries and/or heirs.

Probate may be difficult even when family structures are traditional. However, blended families often reveal even more than the usual opportunities for challenges. When there have been multiple marriages that have created step-relationships, the death of a parent or stepparent may lead to confusion, delays and hard feelings before, during and after the estate administration process.

Regardless of whether you are a stepchild, a stepparent, a biological parent or a child of someone who is near death or has recently died, please know that our trusted probate law attorneys are here for you. At The Probate House L.C., we provide a welcoming, supportive atmosphere that builds our clients’ trust and increases their comfort levels. It is our goal to make you feel at home while we walk you through the probate and estate administration processes for your loved one’s estate.

Step One After Your Parent Or Stepparent Has Died In Your Blended Family: Know Where You Stand

The first thing you will want to know is what California’s laws say about the rights that you and your stepchildren or stepparent have when it is time to administer an estate. Situations differ according to individual circumstances, including the nature of the stepparent’s and stepchildren’s relationship. Several key pointers are as follows:

  • Stepchildren do not have automatic rights to inherit the way biological or adopted children typically do.
  • If one’s biological or adoptive parent remarried and then dies, then a stepparent may receive most or all the assets in the deceased parent’s estate (although a son or daughter of the deceased may be named as a future beneficiary to inherit some or all of what is left after the stepparent’s death).
  • A will may specify that stepchildren will receive an inheritance when their parent and/or stepparent dies. If the will is not specific, it is possible that stepchildren will not inherit anything from a stepparent, even if large amounts of the estate were inherited from a biological parent.
  • When stepchildren have had close relationships since they were young with a stepparent who planned or wanted to adopt them, they may have grounds to receive an inheritance along with any other children in the family.

Depending on the circumstances, the scenarios described above may not apply to your family’s situation after the death of your parent or stepparent. For clarification and guidance, consult with one of our probate lawyers in Torrance, California.

An Ounce Of Prevention Through Estate Planning And Openness

Ideally, blended family members can maturely and openly discuss the issue of inheritances long before there is a death and a need for an accelerated resolution of issues between stepchildren and stepparents. However, death sometimes comes unexpectedly before those conversations have taken place.

We encourage you to contact The Probate House L.C. in Torrance for information and guidance on probate involving stepchildren and inheritances. Our lawyers will help you make the right decisions and take the right steps to pursue your goals through estate planning and/or estate administration.

A probate law attorney’s guidance can be invaluable during the probate processes in a blended family. Second spouses and stepchildren often fall into troublesome dynamics after the death of their mutual loved one(s). Get clarity and assistance. Call us at 424-452-2375 or send an email inquiry to request a consultation.