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Can my stepchild make a claim on my estate?

Blended families are becoming increasingly common in Australia, making up approximately 3.5% of Australian families in 2021.

When making a Will, we often times see clients whose natural reaction is to leave everything to their spouse, and if their spouse does not survive them, to their children equally. However, if you are part of a blended family, estate planning is not as simple and if it’s your intention to not provide for a stepchild, you should consider whether they can make a claim on your estate.

In NSW, stepchildren are not automatically considered as “eligible persons” to contest a Will, unlike the biological children or the spouse of the deceased. However, a stepchild may be eligible to make a claim against an estate if they can prove the following:

(a) that they were partially or wholly dependent on the deceased person; and

(b) that they are or were a member of the deceased person’s household.

The Court may also consider other factors when determining whether a stepchild has grounds to contest a will such as the closeness of the relationship between the deceased and the stepchild and the extent to which the stepchild was supported by the deceased financially or in respect of their overall welfare (and vice versa).

Each family is different and a stepchild’s eligibility to make a claim against the estate will differ depending on the individual circumstances of the case.

If you are a part of a blended family and have stepchildren and you want to understand their rights in respect to your estate, contact Mullane & Lindsay and speak with one of our experts.

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