Are there exceptions to inheritance laws concerning the right of adopted children to inherit from birthparent relatives?

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Are there exceptions to inheritance laws concerning the right of adopted children to inherit from birthparent relatives?

My aunt died and left a small trust to the grandchildren of my mother and father (specifically named). I have 1 son who was adopted out but reunited with his birth family once he was an adult. This aunt set aside a trust for all grandchildren of my parents none of whom (grandchildren) were named specifically within the Will. During the process and distribution, my son was denied a portion based on his having been adopted out, though my relatives had welcomed him back. This denial is resulting in family conflict and I would like to see it resolved fairly. Does he retain any rights in this?

Asked on December 25, 2010 under Estate Planning, Virginia

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am sorry for your loss and for the conflict that has arisen in your family.  Generally speaking, once a child has been given up for adoption and adopted by another family it cuts off the right to inherit from the birth family.  So he would have no right to contest the Will or to claim a share in the inheritance.  It is so great that your family has welcomed him back as an adult but it does not change his legal status within the family.  Your Aunt had every right to name him in the Will should she have chosen to leave him anything or to amend her Will to add him but since she did not he has no standing here.  I am sorry. 


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