In Texas, biological children of decedents hold some of the strongest claims to an estate’s assets. When you have stepchildren and adopted children, though, you may have questions about their inheritance rights.
If you have nonbiological children to whom you plan to bequeath a part of your estate, it is important that you understand their rights under state law. SmartAsset briefly explains the rights of adopted children and stepchildren in Texas.
Stepchildren’s rights to an estate
Under Texas law, when a person dies without a will, stepchildren do not have any rights to the decedent’s estate. This is because the state does not view someone who is a relative via marriage alone as an automatic heir. For this reason, if you want your stepchild to inherit part of your estate, you must specifically state this in your will or estate plan.
Adopted children’s rights to an estate
In the past, Texas law did not view adopted children as equals to biological children. As a result, an adopted child might not have a right to the parents’ estates if the parents created and executed the will before the birth or adoption of that child.
Today, however, adopted children have the same rights as biological children to inheritances. If parents executed their wills before adopting a child, or if the parents passed without leaving any means to support the adopted child, the law entitles that child to all or part of the estate, regardless of if the parents named him or her in it.
As a parent, it is important to understand your children’s inheritance rights. It is also important to put together a proper will or estate plan to protect those rights.