Being Fair to Step Children

Being Fair to Step Children.

Being Fair to Step Children is a problem our Estate Planning Department wrestles with most days, trying to help clients be as fair as possible when creating Estate Plans including Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney as well as Trusts and Inheritance Tax Planning. In a lot of cases, the children of the first person to die inherit nothing, as the survivor remarries and leaves everything to their new spouse.  Legal Planning is an ongoing process, facilitated by being a member of the Peace of Mind Service.

But back to the question: Being Fair to Step Children

Question: My wife died intestate earlier this year.

We jointly owned the property with both names being on the title deeds.  I am being pressurised by my step-sons to alter the title deeds of the house via a deed of variation to reflect that my 2 step-sons will inherit their fathers share of my house upon my death.

I have included this instruction in my will but this appears not to be satisfactory.  My wife’s estate was worth less than £250,000 and I have therefore inherited everything.  I am not happy about altering the title deeds of my house-I am in poor health and I need security for the remainder of my life.

Can you tell me what my rights are please?  My own solicitor seems out of her depth with this issue.

How to be Fair to Step Children – reply.

It is not you who are short of rights, but the other side who have none.

None at all, unless your wife was still supporting the sons, in which case they may well have a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependents) Act 1975 as updated in 2014.

If you do what they say, you will create an unnecessary tax bill for the daughters and be beholden to them for the rest of you life, and subject to their divorces or other financial issues potentially making you homeless. However, it is reasonable to argue that some provision ought to be made for step children – it often is not and gives rise to massive amounts of bitterness.

But in this particular case, there is a solution which protects your interests and theirs pretty much 100%, apart from a couple of issues which may or may not be of concern to you. It is better for everyone, especially you. And the sons will not be creating an unnecessary tax bill.

Give me a ring and I will go through the issues with you.
The cost is more than for a straightforward  Deed of Variation, but (on the face of it) a simple
Deed of Variation would seem to be bad for everyone!

Stop worrying! It is possible to be fair to step children without creating problems.

Best wishes,