Do stepchildren have any legal claim to anything when a stepparent dies?

UPDATED: Aug 29, 2011

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Do stepchildren have any legal claim to anything when a stepparent dies?

They were never adopted and the stepparent had a child of his own.

Asked on August 29, 2011 Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, for purposes of inheritance--i.e. for purposes of intestate succession, which is how a decedent's (deceased person's) estate is distributed in the absence of a will--step child is not a recognized relationship. That is, if there is no will, the step child does not inherit anything (and therefore, his or her child also has no right to inherit). Only biological children, other blood relatives (e.g. siblings, parents), and spouses have rights to inherit in the absence of a will.

If there is a will, then it's a totally different story. A person can, by will, designate anyone to inherit--i.e. with a will, you can leave the assets to anyone. If there is a will, the assets go to whomever the will indicates.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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