Do Stepchildren and Step-Grandchildren Inherit Under Texas Law?
The default inheritance rules in Texas can be confusing. If you want to make sure that your wishes are followed in the distribution of your property, you should talk with an experienced attorney about estate planning. You’ll also be easing the stress on your family during a time of grief if you have a written estate plan. Attorney Philip Hundl describes the documents in a basic estate plan in this video and talks about the probate process in Texas in this video.
This is Philip’s answer to a common estate planning question about the right of a stepchild or step-grandchild to inherit in Texas.
Question: My daughter-in law has a son from a previous marriage. When I pass away, I would like to make sure that he is not excluded from inheriting from me since he is a “step-grandchild.” What do I need to do to make sure that happens?
Under the “default” inheritance rules in Texas, stepchildren and step-grandchildren do not inherit through or from a stepparent or step-grandparent. Therefore, your step-grandson would not inherit from you unless you have a will specifically stating so. If you already have a will, consult with your attorney to make sure the proper provision is included and properly worded to carry out your intentions. If you do not have a will, again consult with your attorney to create a will and make sure the will reflects your wishes and includes any step-grandchildren you would like to include as beneficiaries of your estate.
An additional consideration in this situation is whether your step-grandson has been actually adopted by your son. If so, then your step-grandson would inherit from you just as any other grandchild. If that has not taken place, then unfortunately he would not inherit from you under the default rules of inheritance. You’ll need to create a will to ensure that your wishes are carried out.