What are an adopted child’s rights to make a claim on the estate of their biological parent?

UPDATED: Oct 21, 2014

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What are an adopted child’s rights to make a claim on the estate of their biological parent?

My father passed away over 15 years ago. Recently my mom received a letter saying that there were unclaimed funds. I took the initiative and claimed the fundsof $2900. When he passed I found out about a half sister, 10 years older than me who was adopted by her step-father, there was also a half-brother that I found out about but haven’t seen or heard from since the one and only day I met him, 15 years ago. My “sister” is now saying that I have to split the money 3 ways. I received the money over 6 months ago. Is she correct?

Asked on October 21, 2014 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  The general rule is that adoption cuts off the right of the adopted child to inherit from their biological parent.  That is true if the biological parent dies with or without a Will unless the biological parent bequeaths assets to the adopted child. So if your Dad named your half sister in his Will you may have to split it with her.  Check with a lawyer in your area. Good luck.

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