Do I have any rights to my stepfather’s estate if he did not claim me as his child in his Will but called me his son and took full financial responsibility until I was 18?

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Do I have any rights to my stepfather’s estate if he did not claim me as his child in his Will but called me his son and took full financial responsibility until I was 18?

My mother remarried when I was 5 and my sister was 7. At the start of her 2nd marriage her new husband forbid may sister and me from seeing our birth father, enrolled us in school giving us his last name and he assumed full financial responsibility for us. We called him dad and he always referred to us as his children. Then, 5 years into the marriage they had a son. My stepfather has passed away and in his Will he lists my younger brother as his only child. Do my sister and I have any claim to his estate?

Asked on October 19, 2018 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unless your stepfather legally adopted you, then neither you or your sister are entitled to share in his estate unless you both were specifcially named as beneficiaries in his Will. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, you do not. It doesn't matter if he considered you his son or your sister his daughter: in the laws eyes, you and she were not his children unless he adopted you. Being step-children gives you no legal rights to his estate unless he specifically named you in a will, which he evidently did not and was not required to.


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