Generally, Florida law precludes stepchildren from having an automatic interest in their parents’ property upon death, hence affecting the legal right of stepchildren to inheritance.
If the decedent died a will that expressly directed a share of his/her estate to stepchildren, the situation might be less complicated. However, if the decedent died without a will, Florida Intestacy laws may affect stepchildren negatively.
Keep reading to find out whether stepchildren have inheritance rights in Florida.
Do Stepchildren Have Inheritance Rights in Florida? – The Basics
Even in cases where a stepchild is treated as a full biological child during the individual’s life, it is not sufficient ground to guarantee that the stepchild is entitled to the same legal benefits.
Therefore, if a person wants to protect his or her stepchildren and ensure they will receive their fair share of property upon the passing of their parents, working with an expert attorney to develop a well-structured estate plan is vital.
With a growing number of divorced individuals re-marrying and forming new families, blended families are increasingly becoming the new standard in Florida. However, this type of family arrangement tends to result in tension between heirs upon the parents’ death.
Florida law has strict statutory rules in place regarding stepchildren’s rights. Hence, it is crucial to understand the letter of the law to guarantee that the intended beneficiaries – either biological, stepchildren, or adopted children – receive their intended bequests.
Do Stepchildren Have Inheritance Rights in Florida? – Intestacy Cases
When someone who has stepchildren dies without a will in place, his or her estate will be administered under Florida Intestacy laws. These statutory rules provide a preset order of preference applied to the distribution of the decedent’s assets.
Mostly focused on biological relationships, Florida intestacy rules tend to privilege the decedent’s surviving spouse, followed by biological children and other immediate blood relatives.
In terms of inheriting from their stepparent’s estate upon death, stepchildren in Florida are not even included in the class of intestate heirs.
Do Stepchildren Have Inheritance Rights in Florida? – Adding Specific Language in the Will
If the decedent has a will in place at the time of death, the language used in the document will determine whether a stepchild is entitled to a share of the deceased person’s estate. In this regard, the lack of specificity in the naming of beneficiaries may lead to stressful situations.
Florida statutory rules consider adopted children as “children” in the legal concept of the term. Instead, the same statutory rules explicitly exclude from the definition “any person who is only a stepchild.”
Besides, stepchildren are also excluded from the legal definition of “descendant.” Hence, if a person wants to ensure a stepchild will receive his/her fair share of the estate upon the parents’ death, it is crucial to avoid language leaving property to “children” or “descendants.”
Instead, it is essential to use accurate terms, such as “I leave this and that property to my stepchild.” Failing to do so may preclude the right of stepchildren to inherit from the decedent’s estate through his/her last will.
Do You Want to Protect the Inheritance Rights of Stepchildren? – Immediately Contact an Expert Attorney at Jurado & Associates, P.A.
The best way to avoid an emotionally distressing experience for your stepchildren upon your passing is by structuring a well-designed estate plan. Waste no time – contact a Florida estate planning lawyer from Jurado & Associates, P.A. by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing [email protected].