In re Estate of Smith

49 Wash. 2d 229, 299 P.2d 550 (1956)

 

RULE:

The residue, if any, of the personal estate shall be distributed among the same persons as would be entitled to the real estate by § 11.04.020, and in the same proportion as provided, excepting as herein further provided; A child is the son or daughter, in relation to the father or mother. A stepchild is the son or daughter of one's wife by a former husband, or of one's husband by a former wife.

FACTS:

A man died testate and the will was admitted to probate. The administrator, with will annexed, petitioned that the estate be distributed equally between his two stepdaughters and his granddaughter. The latter, claiming to be the sole heir, filed objections, and the trial court ruled that the stepchildren of the testator had no right of inheritance from him. One dollar was ordered to be distributed to each of the surviving stepchildren in accordance with the terms of the will, and the residue of the estate distributed to the granddaughter. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Washington.

ISSUE:

Do stepchildren have the right to inherit from their stepfather?

ANSWER:

No

CONCLUSION:

The Court held that under Wash. Rev. Code § 11.04.020 and § 11.04.030(3), stepchildren were not decedent's children and were not considered heirs-at-law. There was no evidence that the stepchildren were adopted by the decedent. Moreover, stepchildren were not included in § 11.04.020 by implication.

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