Blended families are increasingly more common with one in three people in the UK now being a step-parent, step-child or step–sibling. Whilst step-families are now a part of everyday life, both parents and step-parents can often be unaware of the legal implications of such relationships with regard to succession law and planning.
In a Will a step-child is not legally classed as a ‘child’. Therefore in a blended family, if a step-parent leaves their estate to their children equally, any biological children will be included however any step-children will not. As a result, for the gift to work, any step-relative must be identified as such.
Contrastingly, an adopted child is legally treated as if they are the natural child of their adoptive parents. This means that in an adoptive parent’s Will, any reference to a ‘child’ will include their adopted child. This is also the case if an adoptive parent passes away intestate. The adopted child will have the same legal right to benefit from the estate as any natural born child would. Furthermore, if adoptive parents have natural children as well, the adopted child will be treated as the proper sibling of the natural born child(ren).
An adopted child cannot make a successful claim on their birth parents’ estates upon their passing, regardless of whether they had a relationship with either of them, unless they were financially dependent on one or both of their birth parents. Otherwise, the only way it is possible for an adopted child to benefit from their birth parents’ estate is if they have been specifically named as a beneficiary of their Will, although the birth parents are not legally obliged to make any such provision.
If you would like a Consultant to visit you to discuss the above please telephone us on 01732 868190 or contact us via our website by clicking here.