Making the decision to adopt your stepchildren can do a lot to enrich their lives while you are around to help raise them. Adopting them may also provide them with a good future following your death. When you adopt a child, the government grants that child certain rights, including the right to inherit from you.
Inheritance laws in the state of North Carolina and across the country prioritize who may inherit from a person after that person dies. By adopting your stepchildren, you place them higher in the inheritance hierachy.
The problem of intestacy
Many people leave an inheritance by writing a last will and testament. This document describes your assets and who will inherit them after your death. However, some people die without composing a will. These individuals die intestate, so a court will decide who will inherit from them.
Spouses and children are often at the top of the list when it comes to inheriting from someone without a will. As Smart Asset points out, this ranking does not apply to stepchildren or foster children. Though you are a stepparent, your biological children if you have any will receive entitlement to inherit from your estate.
Securing inheritance rights
You may write a will that names your stepchildren as heirs. This can get around the intestacy problem. Still, you should consider the possibility that someone like a family member may challenge your will. If a judge rules your will is invalid, your stepchildren might receive nothing from you.
Adopting your stepchildren grants them the same rights they would have if they were your biological children. These rights also make them eligible to receive other benefits from you like Social Security benefits. Basically, adopting your stepchildren can help cover inheritance gaps and make it easier for them to claim benefits.