The process of building a family through adoption creates new legal family ties while simultaneously severing old ties. These legal ties create a host of rights and interests in the context of estate planning which impact more than just the parties involved in the adoption.
Adoption creates a new parent-child relationship, and it may also create new legal relationships with siblings, grandparents and other extended family members thereby giving the adoptee certain rights and interests such as inheritance rights. This also works in reverse – once adopted, the adoptee, severs any legal relationships with biological family members. This prevents the adoptee from inheriting as well as other rights and interests formerly arising out of the biological relationship.
To illustrate how this could play out, suppose a child tragically loses both biological parents and is subsequently adopted into a new family. The child may continue to have a relationship with his biological grandparents. Now suppose the biological grandfather dies leaving a Last Will and Testament that purports to leave all assets to his grandchildren. The adoptee is no longer legally his grandchild even though he is biologically his grandchild and they maintained a close relationship. The child will not inherit anything in this situation.
Estate planning documents must be drafted to clearly reflect a person’s intentions, especially when adoptive family members are part of the equation. If you have a situation where you or a family member adopted a child or a child has been adopted out of your family (such as a step parent adoption), you need to discuss your situation with an experienced estate planning attorney. An attorney can help you clarify your intentions as they relate to adopted family members and ensure that your estate plan accurately reflects those desires. At Stouffer Legal we have a great deal of experience in addressing issues presented by adoption. Please contact us today for a consultation at 443-470-3599.