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Nowadays many people have second marriages where their new partner already has children, some of whom are adults. If you have a step-child and you have not formally adopted the child, then they will not automatically inherit your estate when you pass away. This is particularly important where the step-child is of adult age and therefore cannot be adopted! English inheritance law only recognises bloodline and adopted children under intestacy laws.

However, a simple way to solve this problem is by writing a Will and we recommend that you name your step-child specifically in your Will if you like them to benefit.

If you already have a Will, check if it refers to “children” or “grandchildren” in any way. For example, your Will might say:

“I leave the sum of £1,000 to each of my grandchildren alive at the date of my death”

This means that each grandchild (traced through your bloodline) living at the date of your death will receive £1,000 from your estate. It does not automatically provide for step-grandchildren or any grandchildren not born at the date of your death. If you want step-grandchildren to benefit and receive £1,000 then the best way is to name them explicitly in your Will.

Under your Will you are free to leave your estate to those that are most important to you. If you have step-children or step-grandchildren and you would like them to inherit part of your Estate when you pass away, then you must make a Will.

If you are living in a step-family or perhaps you have step-grandchildren and are concerned, please do talk to us so that we can ensure that your estate passes to the people that are most important to you on your death.

By way of contrast, in a change to established legal definitions, the new Inheritance Tax Residence Nil Rate Band does include step-children in its definition of “direct descendants.”

Get in Touch

If you would like to discuss the Inheritance Tax rules that might apply to you, or if you require advice on step-children, then please do contact Vanessa Ruparel on 0118 958 9711 for further advice.

Further Reading:

Ways to make gifts free of inheritance tax

Amending or revoking your Will: The costly consequences

Bank of Mum and Dad in Conveyancing Transactions


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