It's really important that your husband have a will, and that you know what's in it. Hopefully, he's willing to sit down with you and talk with you about it, taking your input and feelings into consideration. And I hope that you are given priority in his will, as the kids usually have an entire large family beyond you two to take care of them. You, on the other hand, don't have a secondary spouse's home to go to and another husband to suddenly take up your costs- which is usually what the kids have- Another home to go to, another family to ask for money from, another place of support. When your husband passes, you get to deal with the plans and major life change, while your stepkids may be adults at that time and might not even participate in the end of life plans. Especially if they swore you both off as the secondary parents who just aren't important.
Although we are not set up yet, we've discussed it. Bad, I know- but at least we're talking. We haven't ever talked about my will, though. My will at this point would be very simple: My husband will take it all, and give to others as he sees fit.
I realized the other day that in many cases, the working-successful-career stepmom will likely have more to give in her will than her husband's. Many stepmoms deal with the frustration and pain of their husband's income being split in half (give or take) for their ex-spouse and children. We continue to work, even if we have our own kids too, to make up for the lack of what our husband's can afford. We make the home, and lifestyle, a reality. And if our husband passes, we will likely continue to work, just like we did before- maybe because we are younger, because of our own kids, or because we have a career lifestyle.
And it occurred to me that therein lies a new strategy with those stepkids. Husbands might want to point out to older stepkids that their Stepmom is more likely to have more to give as she ages and in her will. Burning bridges with her is a pretty dumb long-term plan, really. It might be a financially sound decision to maintain relationships with dad AND stepmom, instead of focusing on the fight of who gets dad's money- which has usually already been siphoned off for years through alimony, the divorce itself, and child support. In fact, many men sold their assets in order to continue paying for alimony, custody, and their own homes and new families. There might not be anything left in their wills, but stepmom's funds can be protected by state law and not factored into the decades of child support.
I think this is overlooked. It might sound callous or calculating, but so much of family dynamics is tied to finances. It's true. Dependency, large downpayments, cosigning, college, emergencies....A lot of people are tied to family and maintain relationships with some sort of financial element, even if it's just guilt. Adult stepchildren have great financial incentive to keep stepmom in their lives, as grandma to their own kids, or friend into the adult years.
Would I put my stepkids in my will? At this time, no. But if they maintain a nice relationship with me, including me in their lives and with their future families, there's a very strong chance. If I see them as my only kids in the future, that truly makes sense. But at this time, they make it very clear that I am primarily an annoyance that would be better off not existing. That's too bad for them; I will probably be the only one left with any assets of either of their parents some day long into the future.
Afterword (in response to a comment)
A lot of the documentation of hate towards a stepmother for adult stepchildren is tied to her "taking dad's money" and warfare after his death over assets. Without a will, everyone will lose money in court deliberations. I see this more as a reality, and this post was an elaboration on a small realization. It was partially facetious, though quite honest.
One hopes that family doesn't stick around for money alone, and if your family is there without that incentive, and your family wouldn't war over assets after a funeral, then you are very blessed.
But sadly, this is a major truth for many; Many stepmoms are blamed and hated, long after dad has passed away. If the motivation of some kids is based on finances, which for many that is a large component, especially if they were raised by someone who is also calculating, then it could actually be worthwhile to make kids of that frame of mind to think twice about how they treat those that could help them long into the future. Sometimes one has to point out what the hater could be missing in order to spur a more open mind. So, expanding on the concept, as the stepchild matures, they would see their stepmom for who she is, because of the effort towards a relationship. In this case, belief and attitude would be following action, which is a tactic proven in social psychology. And that being said, a relationship would be developed even if the initial eye-opening moment was related to finances. Sometimes, that's all a person can see. There are many out there who are blinded by how they were raised, what they're being taught, or pure selfishness. And children have a hard time seeing through the fog and confusion, particularly when they have at least one person feeding them hate. We've found that sometimes, especially with a teenager, we have to point out simple, cold things to open her eyes and make her reconsider her path.
Boiling it down, wills are specifically tied to relationships. They reflect who and what is important to the deceased. So a stepchild that continued to be selfish and calculating wouldn't be able to maintain that relationship.