Do stepchildren have inheritance rights?

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Keen to ensure your estate is divided according to your express wishes?

Regardless of whether you want your stepchildren to inherit from your estate or have other desires for how your estate should be divided, having a clear understanding of inheritance laws in the UK is crucial.

The expert solicitors at Freeman Jones Solicitors explain the inheritance rights that stepchildren have in the UK, including whether they can contest their stepparent’s will and what they’re entitled to inherit.

Do stepchildren have inheritance rights in the UK?

Put simply, no, stepchildren are not entitled to inherit in the UK. This is because the rules of intestacy (a set of inheritance laws applied when an individual dies without a valid will) don’t recognise stepchildren.

Therefore, the only way that a stepchild would be automatically entitled to inherit from your estate is if you write a will that clearly stipulates your wish for them to inherit.

Can I leave my stepchildren nothing?

Due to something called ‘testamentary freedom’, individuals in England and Wales can leave their estate to anyone of their choosing – regardless of whether they’re related to the beneficiary or not.

By writing a valid will, this means you can choose to leave your stepchildren as much or as little as you like – including nothing.

Can my stepchildren contest my will?

Yes, stepchildren may be able to contest your will using The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Widely known as the Inheritance Act 1975, it determines who can make a claim for financial provision from the deceased estate.

Under this act, the following individuals, that could include the deceased’s stepchildren, are able to make a claim:

  • Individuals that lived with the deceased for at least two years before they passed
  • Individuals that aren’t a child of the deceased, but was treated as such
  • Individuals that were being maintained completely or partly by the deceased immediately before their death

This means if your stepchildren are unhappy with the will, they may be able to contest it and claim for reasonable financial provision. They may also contest your will on the grounds of validity, for example, if they believe you lacked testamentary capacity at the time the will was made.

Protect your assets with Freeman Jones Solicitors today

Concerned that your stepchildren might contest your will and claim inheritance? In many cases, the best way to protect how your estate is divided is to write a clear and valid will.

Writing your will with support from an experienced solicitor, like Freeman Jones Solicitors, can help to prevent inheritance disputes by ensuring your wishes are crystal clear.

At Freeman Jones Solicitors, we can help with everything from will-writing and will storage to estate and inheritance trust planning.

To find out more about our services or for answers to other questions like ‘do stepchildren have inheritance rights in the UK’, please don’t hesitate to contact our professional team today.

If you’d like to book your free, 20-minute, no-obligation consultation, you can either call us on 01244 506 444, email us at, or use our convenient online contact form to submit your enquiry.



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Author Colin Freeman View Profile
Colin qualified as a solicitor in 1998. He specialises predominantly in family law, litigation / dispute resolution, wills, probate and settlement agreements and has notable cases reported in the Court of Appeal and High Court.
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