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Cutting stepchildren out of my will

mspppants's picture

I stumbled upon this site so I'm brand new here. I'm 60 and my husband died 19 months ago, after a long decline with Parkinson's. He was 73 then, and we had been married for 25 years. I inherited everything, which is to say, our house, and the IRA which helps support me.

I have 2 children, now 34 and 35, by my first marriage. My husband had 3 children by his first marriage, they're older, in their 40's.

None of his children ever like or accepted me, never even gave me a chance. For 10 years prior to his death, they did not come to visit him because of their dislike for me. He was in a nursing home for 18 months, two hours away from all 3 of them, and one of them came to visit him 2 times during that time. I don't understand how a wonderful, intelligent man like my husband could be the parent of these three children, they are nothing like him.

One son called me once since his father's death. I might consider leaving that son something. But really, I don't want to leave any of these children anything. Can I do that? I suppose I can, but can they contest and win? I don't want to make trouble for my children after I'm dead by leaving my assets to them and then they have to mess with legal stuff.

How I suffered at the hands of these spoiled little step-brats. I used to have them come over for dinner and after they left I would cry, they made me so uncomfortable in my own home. I'd like to kick every one of their asses. If my children acted the way they acted toward me I would give them a huge piece of my mind.

Thanks for letting me vent. I'm still recovering from my husband's death. I am downsizing and hoping to sell our home and move to a smaller one, and perhaps buy a little condo in florida, too, near my daughter. Any help or advice anyone has for me would be greatly welcome and appreciated.

MamaFox's picture

Firstly, my condolences.

You can cut the step kids out of YOUR will, but not your husband's I'm pretty sure. But you ARE his wife, so that may give you some leeway, I would honestly get a lawyer darling.

mspppants's picture

Well, my husband's will left everything to me, unless I predeceased him, in which case all five of our children were to split things up. Yes, I'll get a lawyer. I dread all this, but it would gag me to leave his children anything after they way they treat me, and treated their father later on. Can you believe none of even came to visit him at the nursing home the week he was dying. I find it mind boggling, but I bet all of you have heard a ton of horror stories.

I am nothing to them's picture

I was really listening to your reply until you said that your step mother had a low IQ. That made me laugh. My SD's say things like that about me and I was a nurse and paramedic for over 30 years, and was good at it. But in their eyes I was ignorant. My husband and I have it set up where two of our 5 kids get the money that is left. If they want to share it with the others that is up to them. But, they changed when they became adults and turned into people we didn't know anymore. We both agreed we do not want them at our funerals. Low IQ...cracks me up.

LadyOfShalott's picture

+++ If it was your husband's decision to leave everything to you, then it had to be with the assumption that you could do whatever you choose to do with it. If he had seriously intended to leave his children something, there were other provisions that he could have made. He didn't. +++

Absolutely true. As part of my DH's divorce settlement with crazy ex #2, she insisted upon her children getting half of a $300K life insurance policy that DH has. I get $150K, they get $50K apiece. Had this not been done, I would have been fair with her children, because that's just who I am. But this way, she gets to look like a hero to her kids.

I actually had a related discussion with DH's daughter from ex #1 (SD30) while she and her hubby were in town for Xmas. DH and I will be setting up wills this year. I asked SD30 to be the executor for both hubby and me, having pre-discussed this with DH before having the conversation with SD30. I am very likely to outlive my DH. I advised SD30 she was getting everything hubby and I left behind (minus the life insurance stuff above), with the specific understanding that *none* of it was to be shared with anyone in the bloodline of hubby's ex #2, since crazy ex #2 already made sure her kids got their "pound of flesh" from their dad. Sad

Orange County Ca's picture

The desire for revenge runs deep.

Your husband who knew these children for all of their lives decided to leave them his legacy anyway and you should respect his request. After all he earned his share of the assets and they should go to where he directed it to go.

I have little doubt he had some complaints about your children yet had no objection to them inheriting your share of the estate. Plus I have little doubt your step-children have complaints of their own about you and perhaps their father also.

I'm guessing they were raised by their mother and as a result your husband had little to do with how they were raised. They reflect the values of their mother and probably a step father. But this is not for you to judge when it comes to the final act. Your husband made his decision while in good mental health and you should leave it alone.

Of course they should have acted better. I'm sure you can remember some times when you wish you had also. Nursing homes are difficult places to visit and its a reminder to everyone that visits that they could end up in the same smelly privacy-less place at the end of their lives. I'd rather jump off the building than go in it. You have the opportunity to take the high road here instead if the petty little revenge seeking old hag you'll be remembered as if you pursue this course of action.

Ask your attorney about a Living Will which should name all of the children as recipients of the whole estate. A Living Will allows the estate to bypass Probate which is an expensive and time consuming procedure which does little but reduce the amounts the heirs finally get.

Let me give you a tip. Go through all the personal effects of your husband and give all of it to the boy who contacted you asking him to share it with his siblings. Do the same with anything you want your children to have after you die. All that jewelry you never wear. Watch the glow when they receive your treasures while you're still alive. Do it now. It'll be a gift and has nothing to do with the estate after you die. It's their property the second you hand it to them. The same can be said of any furniture, pictures that have any family heirloom value. Give it to your children. And to his children anything in the house you know belongs to your husbands family. His fishing rods, old automobile, the toy he made in woodworking class in high school or that oil panting his uncle made. Give it to them and if they put it in the trash its their business. You've done the right thing.

Ready for Freedom's picture

This is good advice. Especially the part about giving all the treasures (sentimental or of monetary value) to all the children now. That will definitely help avoid conflict amongst the stepkids and the bio kids when the SM passes away.

shes driving me crazy in my retirement's picture

OC - Excellent advice. With the jewelry thingy, I do that now with my DD and she loves getting things that were my Mother's or Grandmother's and the history behind things.

K.C.'s picture

Yep I like the idea of giving some heirlooms to the stepkid who contact you and then he can distribute to his siblings.

Indigo's picture

Glad to see you OC ... haven't seen you in a long while.

Good advice as always.

20YearsAsAStep-Mom's picture

I agree with Sydney. It is yours to do with as you please. 10 years is a long time to be estranged. They can't just come waltzing back when there might be money. Ridiculous!

ctnmom's picture

I am so sorry you are going through this. I have a different take. I grew up dirt poor; my dad is dead and my mom will die in debt thanks to her get - rich - quick- without-working second husband. I think an inheritance translates into a promise that is easily broken. Why do we have to leave anything to our kids? Shouldn't they be out earning for themselves? My DH is obsessed with leaving the kids a pile; I'm not. Personally, I don't make a lot of money but by the time I retire I will have a quarter million in my retirement, along with the assets in my marriage. I plan on leaving my kids (including SS36)A token amount apeice, and the properties we own. The rest will go to the little church I grew up in, and the humane society. Whatever you decide. please get a good estate lawyer. Good luck, and God bless.

dadswife's picture

I agree. Why do some feel obligated to leave kids money? There were 9 of us, I didnt get any money. A few mementos. My DH and I, at his insistence made a will where they get 1/2 when he dies. And when I die I said Id give it all to them. Nope. Im changing that. But he will never change his will to exclude them. But when I say they get 1/2...it is split among four of them.

callmedone's picture

Completely agree with Cat.. enjoy your money while you can and don't worry about the skids. Unless they have a history of treating you with respect and kindness and have engaged in a meaningful relationship with you all along, at this point I feel you not only don't owe them anything, but you can consider yourself done with them. I have older skids (54 & 53) and an almost 50 year marriage under my belt. After years of deception and manipulation (freshly learned.. slow learner!), I've come to realize that sd and her bm have been basically on a 'death watch' since my husband had prostrate cancer surgery and my mentally ill brother-in-law experienced a serious health scare. Your skids actions in the end spoke volumes (certainly easier to deal with than a pretense of 'caring') and you're so very fortunate in that apparently your husband was able to recognize this and plan his will accordingly. Life certainly isn't always fair, but in your case it sounds like your husband's will not only reflected his wishes, but what he truly felt was fair under the circumstances.

So sorry for your loss and best of luck in creating a new life for yourself.

Easylikesundaymornin's picture

I am sincerely sorry for your loss ~ death brings out the devil in people. When my mother passed away ~ everything went to my father. Bout almost 6 years ago I lost my husband and have been our 4 kids that were all under the age of 15 by myself. My father remarried almost 15 years ago ~ I never wanted him to be alone. My siblings and I were all adults in different states n I would visit as often as possible.

I liked my sm until the moment she wanted me to speak to my father about putting her in the deed of the house. She was worried as to what would happen to her after the demise of my father. Hearing this over and over again when I was in town visit became to much for me. I had just recently lost my mother n truly didn't want to fathom my fathers death. I told my sm ~ I m sorry this is not something I ever want to speak of again.
I continued to have a solid relationship with my father through daily phone calls. After my husband passed away ~ the worry of me raising my kids on my own grew into stress for him. 6 months to the day of my husbands death ; my dad passed away. With my sm knowing the concern my father had for me ~ my father has left money market accounts for the grandchildren upon her demise.
I m struggling to keep a float for unforseable events in my life. I have kindly asked for her from her ~ n I was told there is no money in one breath n then the next I can't access it without getting a penalty. My words to her were you know exactly what my fathers intentions were ~ if you chose not to honor them ~ then it is on you. I hope you sleep well at night.

I am on the fence about the house which in the will was left to all of us ~ but because the deed of the house triumphs the will I was not even given a handkerchief of my fathers. He was my father for 43 years ~ my parents legacy is bound up in that house ~ she will never take my memories away from me ever. The greed in her was astonishing ~ how can she just wipe their existence away. They were the best parent anyone could have had. Death brings out the devil

27YearStepDad's picture

I have in my will that if anyone were to challenge [contest] my will they get nothing.
My will says my children and step children will be treated equal. I am soon going to change that. The one who is extremely nasty I will give one dollar. the others will no longer be equal to my own kids. Why reward the lack of love and respect? Only one SK has treated me good. I am thinking 10% for her but no longer equal.

AVR1962's picture

If he left everything to you then it does not sound like your husband's children are legally obligated to a share and therefore you are also not legally obligated. The one thing I would question here is, is there anything that his children should have that you are willing to give to them? Giving them something now that he is gone might help them, they did lose their dad. I understand your thoughts with them not visiting and all. Did they attend his memorial service?

joan mary's picture

I think that you need to ask yourself a few questions.

1. Where did the bulk of the estate come from? If the majority of it came from your husbands income, your income, or 50/50? and that leads to the next question

2. If your husband contributed the majority of the assets then how would he feel if you cut out his kids and left it to your kids?

Honoring you husband should trump cutting out the skids. If this was the will he favored and he contributed at least a significant portion of the assets, then you should not disrespect him in death and change it.

One last note - if the will in place is a joint will then you might not be able to change it. Some states require the signatures of both parties to nullify the current will.

Calypso1977's picture

im sorry for your loss.

unless it was an oversight, clearly your husband intended for you to be taken care of first and foremost, and not his children.

it is entirely up to you what, if anything, you will to his children.

my fiance does not intend to leave anything to his daughter. she will get a life insurance policy and his social security should he die before she turns 18. beyond that that, he feels that what he has paid in child support is her inheritance since when all is said and done it will be about $200K, all of which is tax free.

you could always leave a tangible dollar amount to each of them if you feel you should or that he would want it, but i personally would not leave them a percentage interest in the estate. you can simply say "10K to jimmy, $10K to johnny and $15K to billy because he is the only one who cared, and then the remainder of my estate will be divided 50-50 among jane and joan"

shes driving me crazy in my retirement's picture

OP, you posted that he left everything to you. Then it is all yours to do with as you see fit. Just be sure to make out your will saying who you want things to go to.

Your husband loved you very much and took care of you. Sadly, too many are worried about what they are going to live their kiddies at the expense of the second wife.

stepmomfromhell's picture

My condolences to you and your family.
What I would do is just go by what you feel and how these skids are. If you're uncomfortable with them and the home that you lived with your SO is full of great memories, but also of the the memories of when he suffered, I would sell the home you had with him and move to a new home where the skids would have no clue of your where abouts. Cut them out completely so they won't come after you and what they think they are owed. Their father gave you everything and now it's up to you to share it with the people that you love the most.... Nothing wrong with that.

And lastly the summer is on it's way, why not take a weeks trip somewhere maybe the Alaska Cruise up the Pacific?. Your husband would want you to be happy.

Starbucks's picture

My SD will get nothing. My parents are also concerned about money they leave me will not get into SD hands. I will be getting a will that puts my inheritance into a trust if I die first and my husband will get a monthly allowance only. Upon his death, the remaining funds will go to my nephews. I have no children

Don't give the brats a second thought.

momof5_1969's picture

I do want to say I'm so sorry for your loss.

My thinking is that he left everything to you. Period. You do your own will now and you leave everything to your children. Period. Specifically state in there with regards to your step children that you are specifically omitting them, and should they contest it they are granted $1.00 (ONE DOLLAR). I don't know what state your in and I'm sure every state may be different, but this will be what is in my will should I survive my husband. I will be instantly re-doing my will to specifically leave those brats out of my estate. I would rather that my estate go to ANYONE ELSE BUT skids. They are jerks.

Salina92's picture

If I were you I would not leave anything for them either.
They did nothing to deserve it.

SugarSpice's picture

i am so sorry about your loss. i agree that what he left you is YOURS. you owe them nothing. they made life for you miserable, now its time for them to reap their "reward." i find quite a few skids are only interested in the money their father hands out.

Terry Bear's picture

Sorry for your loss. I think the best answer I could give is, sell everything. Give each one a portion that you feel comfortable with and call it a day. You do not OWE them anything. I have often wondered what will happen in my case when it comes to that day, and to be honest, they will take everything away from me and I know this. That is why I am trying to get my life choices in order long before and I will have a will for DH and myself that can NOT be contested. If I have to update a will every year, so be it. I can only say that I have been here for my husband for years and to have skids walk in and take everything from me, NO NOT going to happen! I would burn it all to the ground before I would let them walk away with everything we have built and leave me with nothing. Johnny Cash sung about this also.. You can have it all, my empire of dirt.... That is how I feel about that.

I would give anything to have my Dad back in my life, he past 3 years ago.. But was gone long before due to stroke. I would endure a dreaded step mom, because in the end, it's not about them, its about you and your father/mother not about who is doing what to who. You don't get that time back. I have no respect for people (skids) who say I can't stand the SM or SD enough to walk away from their parent forever. You have to have a balance from both parties, a mutual respect and love for the parent. He or she is caught between their child and the person THEY chose to love...

I hope things work out for you. Sell everything, that way there is NO ties for you to have to divide. God Bless...

JustAgirl42's picture

Remember, we're only hearing one side of the story.

I am a step-mom AND a step-daughter.

I saw my dad's will and he has it set up so that my SM will receive 75%, while the remaining 25% will get split between myself and my two brothers. In essence, most my father's money will end up with my step-brother and step-sister's kids. Each of his own bios will get 8.3%, while his three step-grandkids will end up with 25% each.

I don't care about the money, it's the principle. We've been great kids to our father and have been in his life waaaayyy longer than his wife. They married when we were adults. We have never been anything but respectful and nice to her, while she has been controlling and bitchy.

I understand that a wife is usually the main inheritor, but if a father intended for some to go to his kids, she shouldn't have control over whether or not that happens just because SHE feels they may not have treated her the way she wanted to be treated. On the other hand, if the kids honestly WERE uncaring (and not just avoiding SM) to their father, as a step-mom myself, I would have trouble giving them much of anything ...but I'm not sure it would be my call to make.

I like what StepAside wrote a number of posts back.

JustAgirl42's picture

She's loaded, so there's no way he could be short-changing her.

Like I said, it's not the money I care about, just the principle. Knowing that most of his assets would end up with his step-grandkids, when they have their own parents and grandparents to inherit from, just seems odd.

I understand having bitterness towards stepkids, if they've been horrible to you, and not wanting them to get a red cent of your husband's money

SugarSpice's picture

skids rarely belong in the estate of a step parent. the best way to do this is to talk to an estate attorney. wills can easily be contested and are not the best option. wills also have to go through probate.

hippiegirl's picture

My DH came into our relationship with basically nothing. She (BM) took everything in the divorce (she let him keep his nasty old truck). We have slowly built up a nice life for ourselves and our kids in the 20 years we've been together. Nice home, decent cars, some retirement savings, etc. I do not feel that skids are entitled to any of that. They (skids) can inherit the land and the assets that their mother was rewarded by the courts when they divorced.

Terry Bear's picture

My husbands kids already said anything of value is theirs... Even down to my cat, whom is my little baby, they said they want her. I said NO! That is something personal to me, not them. As far as expensive things, yeah there is a lot that is high dollar, but we also have life insurance and that is split between myself, and two step kids. Which would mean that all our bills will fall on me, because it is more than the insurance after being split. So I told my husband I am going back to work to get rid of the debt because I am not going to live in a box if anything happens to him.

Fair is fair and I get that, but everything in our house is personal to me not them, other than pictures. All my kitchen stuff, my bedroom set, none of which is stuff that they should even want, but I know if something was to happen the BIO would get them to fight for everything.

That is why I have told him we will log everything, keep it up to date and know who gets what (and so will they so they can not fight me over it). Blum 3

ldvilen's picture

I think in pretty much any(?) state, if there is no will, the wife automatically gets everything, and there is not a heck of a lot any one can do about it. I've heard of some SKs trying, basically trying to wear the SM down, but I don't think I've ever heard of it bonafide working. Anyway, I like your earlier comment, "I have no respect for people (skids) who say I can't stand the SM or SD enough to walk away from their parent forever." This is something I've been wrestling with lately too--my husband is trying to establish a stronger relationship with his kids now they that are adults, but they just don't seem interested. I've often wondered at what point do the SKs take over as being the unreasonable ones? I know divorce is extremely difficult, but a lot of us, including myself, have had some pretty nasty stuff happen to us over the years and we don't go around holding grudges or blaming forever, literally. And, a lot of bio-dads may not have even wanted the divorce themselves, initially. So, at what point do SKs step up to the plate, you know? Anyway, just thought your comment was interesting. . .

Terry Bear's picture

I wonder how long it can last also... I have seen cases where it is until death, but I have also seen it that after 30, the SKIDS finally get that parents do not live forever. I always try to see it from both sides, but I also know, once you have been hurt for so long, you have to walk away. Even the nicest of people have their limits.

My parents divorced when I was 7 and I had a small relationship with my Dad for 2 years before my Mom moved so far away that there was no chance of seeing Dad. I resented both parents until I had my first child. A choice I have regretted for many years. I did get the chance to see and be a part of my Dads life after my child was born and then within 6 years my Dad had a stroke and was pretty much a vegetable for 13 years and then died 3 years ago.. I try to tell people, DO NOT wait... Family is important. It will hurt more once you do not have them, believe me. No one to ask questions, to be the support, or have the love... It just all ends. Kids do not understand this, or either they just do not have a sense of realism that yes, we do not live forever.

Sorry, this is just a hard thing for me. It is something that can be avoided if people could just find a common ground or respect for each other. But this is just my opinion, based on my real life issues. Sad

ldvilen's picture

Just want to thank you for your response--you have been very helpful. So thankful you got to be with your dad again for at least six years. You may inspire others to do the same. Blessings.

Terry Bear's picture

You are welcome. I really hope that people see my story and put aside things and focus on what is important. It's not about the evil SM or SD it's about loving and respecting your family enough to look past the little petty things and do what is right. I hate that I am in the situation I am in, I have tried to be the good person, but it's not about me. I just hope they do what is right by the family.

still learning's picture

I think in pretty much any(?) state, if there is no will, the wife automatically gets everything

This applies to "community property" states but is not true or every state. In my state the wife gets 1/2 plus approx $70,000 of the estate if there is no will. That means SM will have to "buy out" or pay off skids almost 1/2 value of estate by selling the home/property etc.

Terry Bear's picture

Cut them out and do NOT feel bad about it, they would leave you high and dry if they could! Do you not deserve what you have worked hard for?? Sorry I show NO sympathy for these people because they would leave you in a box if the shoe was on their foot!

Rags's picture

First, my condolences to you and your family on the loss of your husband.

Now ... the assets are yours. Period. You can do with them what you wish both now and in your Will after you pass. In my layman's opinion of course. Get hold of your attorney and get an estate plan in order that distributes YOUR estate as YOU wish.

Give the money and assets to whoever you wish. Personal effects, particularly your DH's effects can also be allocated in your Will. It might be a good gesture to give his prior relationship spawn any of his personal effects that predate your relationship with him/them and any gifts they may have given to him after you married.

My parent's Will splits their assets equally between my brother and I. It is our job to allocate assets to our own heirs in our respective Wills. That said, SS-23 who is the eldest of my parent's 4 grandchildren was named specifically in their Will as receiving a lump sum. Now that I have adopted him ... he gets squat. }:) Now for the rest of the story.... Originally my parent's Will divided their estate (following the death of the last survivor) in equal shares between all of their direct descendants. So, other than a specific lump sum allocated to my SS my brother and his 3 kids would get 80% of our parent’s estate and I would get 20% as I have no BKs. I was fine with that. I am successful in my own right and so is my baby COO bro who is notably more successful than I am. Our parent’s Will gave my SS a lump sum for two reasons, to ensure he was included in the distribution of their estate, and to protect the Will from being contested by the Sperm Clan in the event of my parent’s demise before SS reached majority.

My brother took exception to him and his spawn getting 80% of our parent’s estate while I would get only 20% and advised our parents that if that stipulation remained that he and his children would refuse any inheritance or donate all of theirs to charity. He did not think it was fair that since he spawned and I have not that he and his heirs get more than I would. Little Bro the COO advised mom and dad to just split their estate equally between he and I and let us be responsible for providing for our own family and heirs. So, that is what mom and dad did. When I adopted SS in April of this year … their Will was changed removing him from receiving any assets directly as an heir to my parents. My son and my niece and nephews are all named as receiving specific personal items from their grandparents but none of them get assets or money. SS-23 has always been a Rags. But now that he is officially a Rags with the family name and all he is no longer special. Poor kid. Wink

My son is my parents eldest grandchild and they have considered him nothing less than their grandchild since I introduced the Skid and my bride to them about 7mos before we married. Our marriage made that a permanent condition. Heaven forbid if anyone were to tell my parents that the Skid is not their grandchild. I shudder to think of the wrath and fury that would fall on a person who would make that mistake.

Of course all could change upon the demise of the first of my parents to check out. The survivor could leave it all to cats or dogs or something. Survivorship laws make a Will only as good as the judgment of the surviving spouse. They don’t have cats or dogs but my mom is a plant freak so she could leave it to plants if that is what she chooses I suppose. My hope is that mom and dad enjoy their hard earned success and slide into the curb in front of the pearly gates with their hair a windblown mess, the tires smoking, having bounced the last check they write and laughing about what an amazing ride they have had.

They raised their sons to be independent self supporting adults. I want them to enjoy their retirement years and not worry about their boys or grandspawn. My brother is in agreement on this.

As for our estate (mine and my brides), we are each the sole beneficiary of everything and in the event of our joint demise our Will stipulates that it all goes into trust for our son (Formerly my SS-23) until he turns 40yo or completes a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. This is our way of parenting and enforcing our goals for him from beyond the grave if necessary. Mwa, mwa, mwa, mwa, mwaaaaaaaaa! }:) Wink

MLAT's picture

My husband and I got married late in life, a second marriage for both of us and we have separate wills. I don’t expect him to leave anything of his to my son and my husband doesn’t expect me to leave anything of mine to his two kids.

My husband’s two adult children abandoned their Father a long time ago. They are selfish, irresponsible and difficult to deal with. I don’t understand how such a sweet, gentle, intelligent man like my husband could be the parent of these two, they are nothing like him or any other members from his side of the family. We get rumblings of their actions towards others through our nieces. Most of it is difficult to hear about and it embarrasses and depresses my husband. Their names are brought up less and less at family get togethers.

To make certain there is no chance they get any of my assets, I have left everything to my grown son. His name is listed as the primary beneficiary on all documents. My sister is the second beneficiary and the executrix of my will.

My sister and my son have a copy of my will and I have photographed sentimental family items with descriptions and a letter of intent of who is to get what.

In a funny way I am grateful to my step-children for being so awful because it made me diligent that all of my paperwork is in order.

sorrynotsorry's picture

Step children aren't owed anything in any state. Double check, but most states do not have provisions for step children - they aren't your kids!! My SKIDS aint getting shit and they ain't got no claim to it. Make this profoundly CLEAR in your will. There isn't a thing they can protest about. Better yet, put things in a living trust so your heirs don't have to go thru probate which could take minimum of 2 years.