1. Under section 72 of the Succession Act, 1965, stepchildren are treated as succeeding and are treated equally as children in the whole blood. This means that if you die without a will and without a spouse, then your step child will have an equal share along with your own children in your estate. However, if you leave a will and exclude this step child, the step child has a right under section 117 to apply to court to seek a share in your estate on the basis that you "failed in your moral duty to make proper provision" for that child. So, in law, you now have the same duty on inheritance to this step child as you do to your own children.
2. Secondly, should the natural parent of the step child die, the step child can only inherit whatever assets the natural parent owns. So if the natural parent should die and does not own the house, but the step parent does, then the (step)child can inherit no part of the house. Be aware that a person does not automatically get a share in a house merely because they are married to someone who owns the house or lives in it.
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Just in addition, if the relationship between the step parent and step child had been non existent, how likely are step children to succeed in such inheritance cases before the courts? Also, if the assets of the step parent was signed over to the natural children before death, would this have any bearing on the outcome of the case brought by the step child before the courts? Many thanks.
3. The fact the relationship has been non-existent is more indicative of a failure in a moral duty to the child than not. So the absence of a relationship is not a factor to be stressed by you. Secondly, a lifetime gift or donatio mortis non causa will not defeat a claim to a share of the estate by a step child.
When "renunciation of each other's right to the legal right share" is included in a separation agreement and divorce, between a parting married couple, does renunciation between the couple automatically end the succession rights (under section 117) of a step-child, to contest the step parents’ will and estate on death?
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