Blended families and inheritance in Ohio

Do you have a blended family? If this is your (or your spouse’s) second marriage, your family unit may include your children from your first marriage, your spouse’s children from a first marriage and the children you have together. More than likely, you love all of the kids equally — even the ones that aren’t biologically related to you. That’s why it’s so important to understand how Ohio’s inheritance laws look at the situation.

Will all the kids inherit an equal share of your estate if you die?

No matter how you feel about your stepchildren, they have fewer inheritance rights than your other relatives. If you die without a will, your stepchildren generally won’t receive anything from your estate unless there are no other surviving heirs. Pretty much everyone is higher up the ladder when it comes to inheritances than the deceased’s stepchildren.

What makes a child entitled to a share of your estate?

For a child to automatically receive a share of your estate after you die, any one of the following has to be true:

  • The child was born to your wife during your marriage (making you the presumptive father).
  • A paternity test proved that you are the child’s biological parent.
  • You voluntarily acknowledged your paternity of the child after its birth.
  • You legally adopted the child before your death.

Exactly how much of your estate each child stands to inherit depends on several factors, including whether or not your spouse survives you and your spouse’s legal relationship to your children. The process the court will use is outlined in Ohio law.

Can you prevent your stepchildren from getting shut out of your estate?

If you’ve bonded pretty deeply with your stepchildren and want them to receive a share of your estate that is on par with what your other children receive, you need to have a will. A properly drafted will can direct the court to distribute your assets any way that you wish.