There tend to be unique challenges that families with adopted children and stepchildren face when it comes to estate planning, so it’s important to receive guidance from a legal professional as you are drafting your documents. If your step son or step daughter is not by law a member of your family yet, this can have an impact on their ability to fight for inheritance in the future. Chances are, you love them just as if they were biologically yours, so there are steps to take to ensure they are viewed as such by law.
A Child That Has Not Been Legally Adopted
If a child in your immediate family has not been legally adopted, they will not receive the same treatment as biological children. This can apply to children who were born to your spouse with a previous partner, or youths in the family who are dependents but not officially adopted. If you have an estate, assets, and property that you want to give to these members of your family, you have to adopt them before you pass away. Otherwise, in the courtroom, they won’t have much of a say in regards to obtaining a portion of your legacy. This can be heartbreaking for children that felt like your biological son or daughter, and are left with nothing of yours to cherish after your departure.
When an Adopted Child Becomes Equal By Law
Whether you have stepchildren or adopted children that are genetically not yours, you must seek help from an estate planning attorney about how to grant them equal footing for inheritance rights. Assuming this is something you want to do, your estate planning attorney can give you information on how to ensure that they will receive the assets you want them to have after your passing. If for any reason you have former stepchildren or adopted children that over the years you no longer have a relationship with, there are ways to edit them out of your estate plan as well.
When Adoption May Sever Birth Family Ties
One thing that your estate planning attorney is likely to warn you of, is under certain circumstances if you adopt a non-biological child, they may lose their rights to inheritance from the birth family. If you adopt, the child by default may not be able to inherit assets from his or her birth mother or father, because the child is no longer deemed legally connected in the eyes of the law. This situation applies whether the child you are adopting is a stepchild or adopted.
Listing Your Wishes
Writing an estate plan can be an emotional and peculiar experience, because you have to imagine how you want your legacy to be divided among those you love the most, after you are no longer here on earth. That is why it is recommended that you meet with a Folsom estate planning lawyer, so they can offer guidance and support. An estate planning attorney can see to it that your instructions are reflected clearly, so the person handling your estate down the line can distribute assets based on your wishes.
Thanks to Yee Law Group for their insight into estate planning and potential issues after adoption.