Does an adoptive child have inheritance rights when their biological parent(s) pass away intestate?

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Does an adoptive child have inheritance rights when their biological parent(s) pass away intestate?

My aunt, who’s 62, was unofficially adopted by our cousin when she was 9. She was raised by her and her husband and they changed her last name to theirs. My grandmother agreed to this as she couldn’t afford to take care of my aunt and her other 4 kids. My aunt was happy since she would be an only child. My grandmother past away 2009 and I’m being appointed the PR to her estate, as she died intestate and a wrongful lawsuit is pending. My aunt is trying to claim any potential proceeds, as one of the heirs to my grandmother’s estate. Under FL law, is she entitled to proceeds?

Asked on April 9, 2011 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A child who is *legally* adopted is a chilld of the adoptive parent(s) under the law, with all the rights, including inheritance under intestate succession, that applies. A legally adopted child is indistringuishable from a biological child, from the law's point of view.

However, the law does not recognize "unofficial adoption." If your aunt was "unofficially adopted" and raised by another family member, she was fortunate to have a loving home...but being raised by another does not give one the same legal status as a legally or officiallly adopted child. You aunt would seem to have whatever inheritance rights she would have for her degree of biological relationship, if any, and not based on the unofficial adoption, which is *not* adoption, but merely care for a child.


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