Stepparents and inheritance are a common concern among children. Imagine a situation in which a father remarries to a woman who has children from a previous marriage. The father passes away and the stepmother inherits all of the estate outright. Will the children of the father have the right to receive a portion of the estate after their stepmother passes away?
If the father’s will left everything to the stepmother — and the will only left something to the children in the case that the stepmother died before the father — then the children of the father will not have any special claim on the estate. The only way the children will receive something is if the stepmother specifically bequeathed something to them in her will. At the moment the stepmother inherited the father’s assets, they became hers free and clear to do with as she pleases. She has the right to bequeath them to anyone she desires whether the recipient is a family member or not.
That said, if the father created a trust dictating that his assets would go to the stepmother, but only until the end of her life, and then the remaining assets would be left to his children, then the children would clearly have the right to receive the assets upon the stepmother’s death.
California residents who are concerned about the potential for inheritance disagreements after their deaths — or those who are worried about their right to inherit their parent’s assets — may want to learn more about what California inheritance law says about their situations. These individuals may have more or less of a right to inherit than they’re currently aware of.
Source: Caring.com, “Will my stepmother’s children claim my father’s estate?,” accessed May 11, 2018