My step-father has died, am I entitled to a share of his estate?

Rebecca Parr  09-01-2020

The number of step-children in the UK is on the rise, due to second or third marriages becoming increasingly common. 

Children of a first marriage are often concerned that their parent will leave everything to the new partner and then in turn that partner would leave everything to their own children leaving them with nothing from their own biological parent.

Reference to “children” in a Will means biological or legally adopted children only, and not step-children. This is the rule, unless you are able to show:

  • that the testator (the person making the Will) intended the reference in their Will to "children" to include stepchildren; or
  • the stepchild is specifically named in the Will. 

The intestacy rules similarly benefit the same class of children, being biological or legally adopted children only, and not step-children.

However, a child treated who has been treated as a child of the family (whether or not the deceased was married to the child’s parent) may have the right to bring a claim against the estate of the deceased, under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975, provided he/she was being maintained by the deceased. This would particularly apply to young step-children who are financially dependant on their step parent.

This is a complex and ever-changing area of law, which in some respects is yet to catch up with modern family structures.

Samuels Solicitors, with offices in Barnstaple and Kingsbridge, has a wealth of experience in advising clients regarding 1975 Act claims and also advising clients on preparing Wills following a second marriage, where both parties have children from previous marriages or relationships.

If you think you may have a claim against a step-parent’s estate or wish to make provision in your Will for step-children or even step-grandchildren then contact one of our private client team who would be happy to discuss the matter further with you.

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