You may be wondering if your stepchildren can inherit from you when you pass. In North Carolina, without a will or adoption, the answer is no. You may have raised your stepchildren and been a parent to them, but the state simply does not see them as your legal heirs. Despite the state’s stance, however, you can proactively take steps to ensure that your stepchildren inherit from you: you can either adopt the child or execute a will which includes the stepchildren as heirs.
Adoption is a long, costly process, and if the biological parent does not consent, the process could become even further complex. Additionally, even after you’ve completed the arduous adoption process, should you die without a will, the state will decide the share your adopted children will receive, not you.
Thus, the only way to ensure that your stepchildren inherit exactly as much as you feel they should is to properly execute a well-drafted will. A will allows your property and assets to be distributed according to your personal wishes, not the state’s predetermined guidelines. Therefore, to be sure your stepchildren and your biological children are taken care of according to your wishes after your passing, we highly recommend contacting an attorney to discuss estate planning.