Does a person whose birth mother gave them up for adoption, have a claim to their birth mother’s estate?

UPDATED: Sep 19, 2011

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Does a person whose birth mother gave them up for adoption, have a claim to their birth mother’s estate?

Birth mother has 3 daughters; 2 were given up for adoption. This was done due to the fact that she had financial problems and could not raise the kids. She kept the third. Since then the birth mother homesteaded and sold some land valued at $16 million. She recently passed away. Do the 2 daughters that the birth mother gave up for adoption have a legitimate claim to the inheritance?

Asked on September 19, 2011 under Estate Planning, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First of all, if the birth mother had a Will, then she had every right to disinherit her 2 adopted children. In fact, a parent can disinherit any child that they choose; adopted or not. This is so long as the parent's intention was to leave their child out of the Will. So, for example, if  parent did not know of a child or a child was born after an Will was executed, then even if not listed as a benficiary they would still have inheritance rights. However such is obviously not the case here.

If the biological mother died without a Will, then her "heirs" (i.e. blood kin) would be entitled to inherit based on specific state intestacy law. However, the general rule is that an adoption decree ends the legal relationship between birth parent and child. While certain states make exceptions to this, CA does not. In other words, heirs do not include children who have been given up for adoption.

Bottom line, based on the facts that you gave, it appears that the 2 adopted children have no inheritance rights in this case. However, since the facts resented were rather limited, consulting with a probate attorney might be in order.

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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