Blended families have grown over the years and there are more and more families choosing to prepare estate plans that will address their STEP-grandchildren or STEP-children exactly the same as their natural-born children.
The Question Of Whether Stepchildren Are Considered Descendants With Regards For Trust Provisions Is A Question That Arises Often
To explain Arizona probate law, we look to Title 14 of the Arizona Revised Statutes concerns Probate, Trusts, Estate and Inheritance Laws. Before the law can effectively govern anything, it must first define it. That’s where A.R.S. § 14-1201 comes in. This statute contains very specific definitions for more than 60 germane words.
As you might imagine, questions about bloodline and inheritance are pretty common, so those words are defined clearly and concisely within this statute. The three definitions that are pertinent to this question about stepchildren or step-grandchildren are “child”, “parent”, and “descendant”. A.R.S. § 14-1201(6) defines “child” as one who may expect to inherit from intestate succession or what happens when someone dies without a will or trust. More importantly, it “excludes a person who is a stepchild, a foster child, a grandchild or a more remote descendant.”
Similarly, the definition for parent excludes any person who is a stepparent, foster parent or grandparent. Both of these definitions are important because of the way they influence the final definition: descendant. According to A.R.S. § 14-1201(12), “‘Descendant’ means all of the decedent’s descendants of all generations, with the relationship of parent and child at each generation.” The definition can seem a bit circular, but the requirement that the relationship of “parent and child” be met at each generation is what protects an estate from being contested. Any argument raised on behalf of a step-grandchild would be refuted on these grounds.