Non-Traditional Kids and Your Will

Adopted family of Mr. Clark Griffith 1925.

Adopted family of Mr. Clark Griffith 1925.

If you are making a will, or if you made one so long ago that you don’t remember what it contains, you may want to change that will to reflect your current conditions both financially and in the growth or diminishing rate of your family. If your family has grown, you may have included what are known as “nontraditional” children. These children would include children from previous marriages, adopted children and even illegitimate children. How can you provide for them in your will if you desire?

In most states, adopted children are treated as equals to your blood-related children unless you indicate otherwise in your will. To avoid problems, you might specify in your will that words such as “child,” “children,” “sons,” or “daughters” include (or exclude) any adopted children. If you simply state in your will that gifts will got to your children, without indicating which children, children from all your marriages may be included with that terminology.

If you marry someone with children from a previous marriage and you do not formally adopt these stepchildren as your own, they may not be included in your bequest to your children unless you specify this information. If you’re a male, most states may consider a bequest to children to include only legitimate children. In the case of a mother, a bequest to children usually may include illegitimate children.

Additionally, if you leave bequests to your beneficiaries’ children, the same rules would determine who is and who is not included in your request.

You may not like to think about what would happen to your children if you and/or your spouse or partner would die, you should construct your estate plans to account for that possibility. You can use a guardianship, trusts and other legal devices to ensure your children are cared for if the worst should happen. Accordingly, it is important that the adopted child understand his or her origins when the time is right, otherwise your death may be the harbinger of unpleasant surprises.

To learn more, you might visit any one of the following sites:

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