When you adopt a child, you want to make sure that your child has every right and opportunity that he or she would have had as your biological offspring. This touches on all aspects of your family life and involves a number of legal aspects as well. One area of particular note is your estate plan. When you adopt, it is critical to make sure that your estate plan accurately reflects your wishes regarding your adopted child’s inheritance and guardianship in the event of your untimely death.
Inheritance and Adoption in Georgia: Answers to FAQs
With two sets of parents, adopted children often have a number of questions with regard to what happens in the event of a parent’s death. However, under Georgia law, many of these questions are not as challenging as they may initially seem. Here are answers to some common questions—from both children and parents—about adopted children’s inheritance rights in Georgia:
Q: Can an adopted child inherit from his or her adoptive parents?
Yes. Under Georgia law, an adopted child is treated as a “natural child” of his or her adoptive parents for purposes of inheritance. This means that, in the absence of an estate plan, an adopted child is on equal footing with any biological children in the family with regard to inheriting the parents’ property.
Q: Can an adopted child inherit from his or her biological parents?
No. There is a lot of confusion about adopted children’s rights to inherit from birth parents. But, Georgia law clearly states that adopted children exclusively have the right to inherit from their adoptive parents.
Q: Can adoptive parents alter their children’s inheritance rights in their estate plan?
Yes. So far, we have been talking about the default rules that apply in the absence of an estate plan. But, when parents create an estate plan, the terms of their will (or other estate planning documents) can supersede the laws of “intestate succession” that would otherwise apply. Having an estate plan provides certainty for family members and can help avoid many of the costs involved in the probate process. These are just two of many reasons why it is important for all parents to have a comprehensive and up-to-date estate plan.
Q: What if adoptive parents do not update their estate plan after adopting?
Since an adopted child is treated as a natural child for purposes of inheritance and estate planning, if a parent’s will refers to his or her “children,” this includes adopted children under Georgia law. This is true even if the will was written prior to adoption. If an estate plan mentions children by name, however, then revisions will likely be required. The issues that can arise from an ambiguous estate plan can quickly become complicated. To avoid will contests and other disputes, parents should be sure to have their estate plans reviewed prior to or promptly after adopting.
Contact the Georgia Family Law Attorneys at Stearns‑Montgomery & Proctor
If you have more questions about adopted children’s inheritance rights in Georgia, or if you need to speak with an attorney about updating your estate plan, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential initial consultation. To request an appointment, please call (678) 971-3413 or inquire online today.