Does an adoptive child have inheritance rights when their biological parent(s) pass away intestate?

UPDATED: Apr 9, 2011

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Does an adoptive child have inheritance rights when their biological parent(s) pass away intestate?

My aunt, who’s 62, was unofficially adopted by our cousin when she was 9. She was raised by her and her husband and they changed her last name to theirs. My grandmother agreed to this as she couldn’t afford to take care of my aunt and her other 4 kids. My aunt was happy since she would be an only child. My grandmother past away 2009 and I’m being appointed the PR to her estate, as she died intestate and a wrongful lawsuit is pending. My aunt is trying to claim any potential proceeds, as one of the heirs to my grandmother’s estate. Under FL law, is she entitled to proceeds?

Asked on April 9, 2011 under Estate Planning, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

A child who is *legally* adopted is a chilld of the adoptive parent(s) under the law, with all the rights, including inheritance under intestate succession, that applies. A legally adopted child is indistringuishable from a biological child, from the law's point of view.

However, the law does not recognize "unofficial adoption." If your aunt was "unofficially adopted" and raised by another family member, she was fortunate to have a loving home...but being raised by another does not give one the same legal status as a legally or officiallly adopted child. You aunt would seem to have whatever inheritance rights she would have for her degree of biological relationship, if any, and not based on the unofficial adoption, which is *not* adoption, but merely care for a child.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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