Adoption and will writing
By Melissa Broad, Contributing Writer.
If you have adopted a child, they will generally have the same rights to inheritance as a biological child would. This is because adoption of a minor child creates a parent-child relationship that is legally binding between the child and adoptive parent, while cutting ties with the birth parents. However, there are a few differences when it comes to estate planning for families with adopted children.
Most adoptions cut legal relations between the birth parent while simultaneously creating a new legal relationship between the child and adoptive parent. Because of this, adopted children have legal inheritance rights to their adoptive parents only, not their birth parents.
If the parent of an adopted child dies, the child has a number of inheritance rights, including:
Receiving a portion of their parent’s estate if they are accidentally excluded or left out of the will document. All states have laws that protect children in the event that they are left out of an estate plan.
The right to inherit property if their parent were to die without a will.
They are included in the reference “all my children” if their adoptive parent uses this term in their will.
Step-parent and second parent adoptions
These are exceptions to traditional laws as they allow a child to be adopted by a step or second parent, without cutting legal ties to any existing birth parent. This process is good for families that are non-traditional and looking to create new parental relationships, without severing any others.
This kind of adoption process does require the consent of the child’s birth parents, as well as the co-operation of all parents on behalf of the child.
Inheritance without a legal parental relationship
Adoption usually cuts legal ties with the child’s birth family, however, it is still possible for them to retain the social connection to their birth family. This is often the case in open adoptions, in which both the adoptive and birth family establish a relationship during the pregnancy. This may also continue after the birth and adoption of the child if they so choose.
Either family involved can opt to provide for the other through their estate planning process, even though the law doesn’t provide inheritance laws for this situation.