Does an adopted child have a guaranteed inheritance?

My extended family is expressing indignation over a situation. A former in-law (now divorced) has adopted a 30-something and also has a natural 30-something offspring. The concern is that “…an adopted child cannot be disinherited.” whereas “…a natural child can be totally disinherited.” Is this true?

The concern is that the natural child could miss out on substantial wealth. Does not matter to me - everyone involved seems to doing quite well.

Different jurisdictions, different laws.

Long list of “summaries” of [various US state laws]( of State Laws)

That’s good! Thank you! I may refer this to my inlaws.

The answer is no. The parent(s) can choose to diminish/distribute/destroy the estate at any time while s/he/they are alive.

Generally speaking, all adoption does is sever the parent-child relationship between the bioparents and the child and replace it with a parent-child relationship between the child and the adoptive parents. That means the adopted child will be treated like a biochild when the adoptive parent dies without a will, or when something is left to a class of people (“to be divided equally among my grandchildren”) and will not be included when those same situation occurs with the bioparents. There are exceptions as there are to all general rules, but the exceptions seem to tend toward allowing the adopted child to inherit from the biorelatives. I cannot imagine there being a law anywhere that keeps a person from disinheriting an adopted child priority simply because they are adopted. There are probably situations where a person can’t disinherit a child (such as a minor child or a disabled child) but those would apply to bio-children as well.

When was the 30-something adopted, as a child or as an adult? I’m only asking because if the 30 something year old was adopted around 30 years ago, it seems odd for this to becoming up now,

I didn’t think anyone was guaranteed an inheritance. I know people can be assholes when wills are read (thinking about my sister’s BIL) but if the deceased was truly of sound mind, can’t they leave their stuff to anyone or no one?

Makes me glad I have just one kid, so there won’t be any fights about my stuff when I’m dead.

As it is IMHO, I have heard that if any person that normally would be an heir if the will writer were to die intestate is not mentioned in the will, a suit can be brought claiming that the omission was an oversight, not deliberate, and that the intent was to provide for the nominal heir, leading to the omitted person being given a share. The supposed work around for this is to leave some nominal sum to the disinherited heir, usually with some passive-aggressive comment. “And to my son, Charles, I leave the sum of one dollar, for reasons he knows full well.” I imagine that this would apply equally to an adopted child, who normally would receive a bequest.

By an odd coincidence, I’ve been doing some research on this myself, although for another reason. The thing about “an adopted child cannot be disinherited” was a feature of ancient Greek law. Indeed, a major reason for adoption back then was for the specific purpose of providing an heir for somebody who didn’t have a son.

Also, the legal fiction of adoption made for a good way to integrate different communities, particularly in Roman times.

It is odd. The 30-something adult was adopted within the last year and is the child of a 50-somethings’ girlfriend, NOT his child. The 50-something has pretty much ignored his own child for the past 20 years and the family wonders what his plan is. The guy is very bright, educated, and a bit of a schemer.

Don’t be too sure about that. I swear some people would fight with their own shadows after a death; grief masquerading as misdirected anger, or simple jerkery, one or the other. (Grief, I’m sure, in your case, if at all.)

I’m confused - who’s the schemer?

Is everyone sure the Adopter has not married the girl-friend? (Sounds like the kind of family where that kind of information might not get shared).

If the adult child was adopted, s/he could still be disinherited; I’d worry more about losing the family fortune to a trust, if I were to worry.

Families can get irrational (and inaccurate) about second spouses (and their children), to the point of accusing the spouse of stealing to pay for the parent’s living and medical expenses, and the children of being manipulative and conniving just for visiting every week and doing a few chores.

Varies by location. Some places require a lengthy disinheritance process before someone who would normally be entitled to a part of the estate can be completely left out; some places have that entitled part so small that leaving nothing but is an enormous middle finger anyway; in others, it can be as much as half the estate; and in others there is no such thing as an entitlement part.

Ho boy. If you have an issue; please please speak to a lawyer in your jurisdiction. Inheritance and adoption law on their own is insanely complicated and when combined; its like dealing with Doctor Doom.

The answer you will get depends extremely on what the legal instrument for the adoption was used (and they can be quite different), what kind of property is it, are there any trusts to deal with… yeah you really need a qualified lawyer here.

Depends. Will bequests can be and are set aside all the time. What you say that’s a general rule, but under the laws of various jurisdictions there might be exceptions (the most common is for minor children of parents who died suddenly and unexpectedly without amending their wills) and also depends on the property itself.

Moreover, there is a rule of construction that a Court will presume that you did not intend to disinherit a direct heir (spouse and legitimate children usually) without clear evidence that you did. One lawyer trick is to give the "disinherited"a small token, to show that you did not forget them, that it was purposeful; but law reports are filled with cases where such tokens were held not to prevent getting a share.

In a well know case Joan Crawford left nothing for her adopted children in her will.

And, in a call back to my earlier post about a passive aggressive remark the will stated:

As mentioned, varies by jurisdiction. Here in PR 1/3 of your estate goes to the legal heirs presumptive, first tier of whom are the children in equal shares, and you can’t pick, choose or deny except for cause (e.g. one of your sons tried to killl his brother to get his share, he gets taken out). The next third can be assigned preferentially but still to legal heirs and only the last third is of free disposal. Adoption makes no difference.