Step-Children cannot Inherit without a Will

Imagine this – mom and step-dad have been married for 30 years. Mom dies first, had one biological child and did not have a will. Mom and step-dad have a joint bank account and a house they purchased jointly also. Step-dad becomes the automatic, sole owner of the bank account and the house. Step-dad dies one year later without a will. Step-dad had two biological children. Because step-dad was the sole owner of the account and the house after mom died, step-dad’s children inherit everything and mom’s child gets nothing.

This is a very unfortunate situation that I have seen more times than I can even begin to count. It is heartbreaking for the mother’s child to be in this situation. The only way to prevent this from occurring is for the step-parent to sign a valid will or trust including the step-child as one of his beneficiaries. The married couple could also form a trust that would restrict the step-parent from excluding the child after the mother’s death. It is especially important for blended families to make sure they set aside the time to properly plan their estate.

About the Author

Amanda Jelks is licensed to practice law in Tennessee and Georgia. Her firm, Jelks Law PLLC, focuses primarily on legal issues that affect businesses and estates. Jelks Law was selected as the 2018 Emerging Business of the Year by the Urban League of Chattanooga. Amanda has been chosen as a Rising Star by Super Laywers® for the last three years in a row. This award is given to less than 2.5% of attorneys in the mid-south who are under the age of 40 or have been practicing for less than 10 years. Schedule a time to speak with Amanda today.