Does an adopted child have inheritance rights, once the adoption decree is finalized?
The simple answer is yes, but it gets a bit more complicated than that. Does an adopted child inherit through his birth parents, his adopted parents, or through some combination of the two?
Laws about the inheritance rights of adopted children vary state by state. But for our intent and purposes, we'll look to Texas law to answer the question.
When speaking about inheritance rights, we must also remember that they can hinge upon whether or not there was an estate plan. While many family law attorneys are qualified to do estate plans, not all have expertise in this area of law.
A valid will usually dictates who gets what. But in the event that there is no will, an adopted child can begin asking what his rights are to inherit from his birth parents and/or from his adoptive parents.
The right to inheritance in the absence of a will is determined by the laws of intestacy.
Of course, the effect of an adoption decree on the relationship between the adoptive parent and the adopted child is much stronger. An adopted child has the same inheritance rights as a birth child would have. This means that adoptive parents can inherit from their adopted child, and vice versa.
Again, we are just talking about intestacy, i.e., when there is no will. A proper estate plan would take care of these issues and allow for the appropriate distribution to the adopted child.
Even if the will omits the adopted child, assuming it was drafted prior to the child's adoption, the child may still inherit under the law of omitted children.
As we mentioned earlier, this discussion about the inheritance rights of adopted children is really a cross-over topic with estate planning. A good adoption lawyer may have some insight into these areas, so have a look at our directory of Houston family lawyers below.