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Step-Grandchildren and Your Estate Plan

[fa icon="clock-o"] Jun 6, 2018 9:30:00 AM [fa icon="user"] The MacMillan Estate Planning Team [fa icon="folder-open'] Estate Planning, Will Planning, family estate planning, beneficiaries, family inheritance

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We’re fortunate to work with so many wonderfully generous clients. A part of many of their estate plans is considering how they would like to continue to provide for their families even after they’re gone. This often includes leaving thoughtful gifts and inheritances for both their children and grandchildren. But how does being a part of a blended family change your estate plan?

Protecting Your Bloodline. One of the first things you may want to consider when planning your estate is how to ensure your adult child’s inheritance stays in the family. If, for example, your son (who has one child) marries a woman with two children, you’ll likely want assurance that the wealth your son inherits from you goes to your grandchild (your son’s one child) rather than just your two step-grandchildren.

Wives typically outlive their husbands. So if your son inherits directly and then leaves his assets to his wife, the wife will get the final say in what happens to your generous gift. She could choose to write your grandchild out of her will entirely after your son has died. If this a concern for you, our advisors can recommend tools, like trusts, that allow your child to benefit from their inheritance. However, once your adult child dies, the assets in the trust will be distributed as you decided when you created the trust.

Including or Excluding Step-Grandchildren. In most jurisdictions, including Canada, the US, and the UK, step-grandchildren are not automatically included in a will. Unless you (or your child) adopts a step-grandchild, they are not treated as a member of your family by the state. Therefore, unless the step-grandchildren are explicitly included in your will, they will not inherit.

We’ve worked with many clients over the years. Some wish to include their step-grandchildren as fully as their biological and adopted grandchildren, and others prefer to leave their step-grandchildren out of their will. Both options are entirely valid, and it is our goal to create an estate plan that prioritizes your individual wishes for your unique family.

Remember to Update Your Estate Plan. As new grandchildren and step-grandchildren come into your life, it’s important to schedule regular consultations with your estate advisor. We’re here to ensure that your personalized estate plan reflects your current wishes, and that may require updating the wording. For example, if your will specifies that you, “leave $100,000 each to your grandchildren: Amy, Ben, and Colton,” any grandchildren born after these three will be left out of your will. Reviewing your estate plan regularly will ensure no mistakes are made.

Your professional estate advisor at MacMillan is here to help facilitate your life plan. From generational planning to your will, we want your legacy to continue as long as possible. To get started on a personalized estate plan that meets the needs of your unique family dynamic, contact our advisors today at (403) 266-6464 and schedule your free consultation.


At MacMillan Estate Planning, our team of professional trust and estate practitioners, chartered accountants, financial planners, and legal professionals look forward to assisting you with the design of your estate plan and will ensure you build, protect, and enjoy your wealth. The information provided is general and may not be suited to your objectives or sufficient to ensure the protection of you and your family. You should not act on this information without providing MacMillan Estate Planning with the opportunity to ensure that it is suitable for your unique situation.


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