I have had many clients over the years who have spoken about their children, and only after digging down do I discover that they are the client’s stepchildren, never formally adopted though often raised by the stepparent from a young age. The problem? Legally speaking, without a will, stepchildren cannot inherit from their stepparent.
Ontario has very strict rules about who can inherit if you don’t have a will. Children count, whether born in or outside marriage or legally adopted. Stepchildren do not. Further, if you simply say in your will “my children” without naming them, the presumption is that you only mean your legal or biological children.
If you’re raising children you aren’t legally related to, and you want them to inherit, you NEED a will, and it needs to be done properly.