Child adoption is a common practice in the United States. Some estimates suggest that more than 265,000 children enter foster care each year. However, adoption does make it more difficult to recover assets from the estate of a biological parent.
When a child is legally adopted, parental rights transfer from the child’s biological parents to adoptive parents. This also means that inheritance rights transfer to the adoptive parents. However, this does not mean it is impossible for an adopted child to obtain an inheritance from a biological parent.
If you are the biological parent of an adopted child, then you have estate planning options to leave assets behind for your child. There are a couple of estate planning options, including a traditional will. You would need to be specific in the will about your intentions for passing assets to your child.
It is also possible that if you have biological children who are not adopted, they may contest including the adopted child in the will. Colorado’s probate process can become nasty when family members fight over the terms. It is advisable to avoid the probate process by speaking to an estate planning attorney about estate options that do not have to go through probate court.
Depending on the circumstances, the probate process could make it more difficult for your adopted child to obtain any assets you included for him or her in the will.
Including Adopted Children In Your Estate Plans
Since a parent-child relationship exists after legal adoption, you can pass your assets along to an adopted child in the same way you would with a biological child. You could hold your assets in a revocable living trust. After your passing, the trustee would pass the assets in your trust to your adopted child.
If you already have a trust and recently adopted a child, then you may be able to modify the trust to include the child. You can modify the terms of a revocable living trust, but it is more difficult to modify an irrevocable trust. An irrevocable trust should clearly define who the beneficiaries are, such as adopted children or stepchildren.
When you legally adopt a child, the law sees your adopted child in the same light as a biological child. This means that even if you pass away without an estate plan in place, your adopted child has the same legal rights to your estate as your biological children.
How Will My Estate Plan Affect My Stepchildren?
Your stepchildren do not have the same rights to your estate as adopted or biological children. However, this does not mean you cannot include your stepchildren in your estate plans. Some of the same options listed above, such as a living trust, could also include your step children. You would need to clearly list your stepchildren as beneficiaries for your estate.
Your attorney could work with you on plans for including stepchildren in your estate so you can pass your assets along after your death or incapacitation.
Questions About Your Estate? Call Our Centennial Estate Planning Lawyers
Skipton Law, LLC can help you with estate planning options that will ensure your adopted, biological or stepchildren are taken care of after you are gone. We encourage you to reach out to us for a consultation to learn more about how we can help with your potential case. Call us at (720)613-2633 or use our online case review form to schedule a consultation.
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