Wills 8 : Biological Grandma

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Q: I was adopted-out at birth.  Now, my biological grandmother has written a will devising a trust estate to my biological mother’s ‘issue’.  Am I entitled to a share?

A: Under Domestic Relations Law § 117, the rights of an adoptive child – to inheritance and succession from and through his birth parents – generally terminate upon the making of the order of adoption.

The law does not want to give you inheritance rights as the issue of both your biological and your adoptive parents.  Powerful policy considerations militate against construing a class gift to include a child adopted out of the family.  In detailing adoption procedures, the Legislature has clearly intended that the adopted child be severed from the biological family tree and be engrafted upon a new one.

Moreover, for the good of both sides, adoption records are confidential.  It is not lightly to be presumed that a biological ancestor wants this veil of confidentiality to be pierced, which could tend to happen if children who are adopted out of a family are presumed to be takers of gifts to ‘issue’.

You can take only if you are specifically named in your biological grandmother’s will, or if the gift is expressly made to ‘issue’ including those adopted out of the family.  If that is your biological grandmother’s intention, then her lawyers should say so explicitly in the will.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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