Occasionally, I’m asked: ‘I was adopted. I’ve just heard of the death of my biological mother. What is the interaction between adoption and inheritance rights?’
Let me tell you about my friend, the marketing genius Felicity Francis. She said something to the effect that the reason for adoption was the birth parents didn’t want you. But, all was well that ended well. You were adopted. Your adoptive family gave you a home. After a love-filled home, it’s debatable if a child needs much else.
A slightly unchivalrous phrase comes to mind: ‘double dipping’.
In short, the answer to the question is ‘no’.
You were adopted; therefore, you cannot make a claim on the estate of your birth parents. Adoption and inheritance rights do not extend to the birth parents.
Not on This Estate
In inheritance and succession there is no difference between adoptive parents on the one hand and birth parents on the other. To the extent a child has any rights, they are the same for both birth and adoptive children. Of course, the birth parents are free to make gifts to whomever they please, and this would include children who had been adopted into another family.
To the extent you could make any sort of claim by way of family relationship, it would be in respect of the estate of your adoptive parents. As I’ve written elsewhere in these posts, adult children have a hard time making a successful claim, as such claims would defy the principle of testamentary freedom.
The less than charitable response to the query is that the interlocutor knows they would ordinarily be eligible to inherit from their adoptive parents’ estates. Two sets of parents from whom to inherit—double dipping.
This, one of my shortest posts, is where we should end the discussion on adoption and inheritance rights.
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