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

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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

Answers:

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

Answered 10 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.


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