How Does Being Adopted Affect Your Inheritance Rights?

10 April 2017
 Categories: , Blog

The foster care and adoption system unites thousands of children and new families per year, and most adoptive parents intend for their adopted children to share equally in the inheritance when they pass away. However, variations in state probate law make the entire process complex and not always black and white. Find out why you should talk to a probate lawyer as part of adoption to iron out inheritance details as early as possible.

State Stances

Most states use the 1990 Uniform Probate Code recommendations to treat legally adopted just the same as birth children, with or without a will to explicitly lay out the details. This means that an adopted child left out of a will because it wasn't updated can use a probate court claim to gain access to their rightful assets. However, in most states it's still possible to draft a specific exclusion to block certain descendants from inheriting assets, and these exclusions can be applied to any relative.

Birth Parent Rights

With only a few exceptions, the legal relationship between the birth parents and adopted child is severed after a legal adoption. This means that even if the child reunites with their biological parent, they aren't automatically entitled to any claims to an estate. In a few states like Oklahoma, there exists a standard of double inheritance that is complex indeed. Children adopted in these states are still legally connected to their birth parents and may inherit their property even without a will. A descendant of a parent who passes without a will can make a claim on the estate even after being adopted at any age and having no contact with the birth parents, and in some cases they can still claim inheritance to counter a will.

Reverse Inheritance

While most parents think of inheritance of what they're leaving for the children and the rest of the family after they pass away, a parent who loses a child is also entitled to inherit their assets and belongings. In most states, this is an automatic right bestowed upon adoptive parents as soon as the process is complete. States that follow double inheritance rules or which maintain inheritance only along the birth parental lines tend to restrict this type of inheritance since there is a limited legal relationship with the adoptive parents. No parent ever expects to deal with the death of a child, but you don't want the additional stress of dealing with inheritance claims by the birth parents when you can make alternative arrangements with the help of a probate lawyer like Patricia K Wood Atty.