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Estate Planning

Can An Adopted Child Be Disinherited

Can You Disinherit An Adopted Child

Adopted children are treated the same as biological children as far as inheritance law is concerned. A better way of putting it is that the adopted child is regarded as a child of the adoptive parents. But it is possible for adoptive parents to disinherit their adopted child just like birth parents can disinherit their biological children. However, they have to show their intent to disinherit a child using a Will. An experienced Texas inheritance lawyer can explain all the options you have if you have been disinherited by your adoptive parents.

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Adopted Children Inheritance Rights

Can An Adopted Child Be DisinheritedAdopted children can inherit through their birth parents but their birth parents and relatives of birth parents cannot inherit through adopted children. That means that birth parents cannot claim part of the estates of their biological children that were adopted-out if the child dies without a Will. Adopted children can inherit their adoptive parent’s estate under Texas intestacy laws if the adoptive parent dies without a Will. They can also inherit from the ancestors of their adoptive parents. This is according to Section 162.017 of the Texas Family Code that governs the effect of adoption and states:

“(a) An order of adoption creates the parent-child relationship between the adoptive parent and the child for all purposes. (b) An adopted child is entitled to inherit from and through the child’s adoptive parents as though the child were the biological child of the parents. (c) The terms “child,” “descendant,” “issue,” and other terms indicating the relationship of parent and child include an adopted child unless the context or express language clearly indicates otherwise.”

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What An Adopted Child Can Do If Not Included In The Will

You can challenge a Will if you were left out of it by your adoptive parent. You can do this on the following grounds:

  1. Mistake: This can only work if there was undue influence or fraud involved in the creation of the Will.
  2. Fraud: Refers to a situation where the testator ends up creating a Will that does not reflect the testator’s true wishes because the testator has fallen victim to a fraud perpetrated on the testator.
  3. Lack of testamentary capacity: If the testator was not of sound mind while making the Will, then the Will can be declared invalid by a court. For example, if the testator had a prior diagnosis for dementia, psychosis, or Alzheimer’s, then the Will may be declared void.
  4. Revoke Will: You can also contest a Will by showing that the testator revoked it before the testator died. A testator can revoke a Will by writing another Will or by a physical act.

Once the probate court receives the Will, you have to wait two weeks before the Will is admitted to probate. You can enter a challenge to the Will during this period to stop the probate process.  This is important because if the Will has already been admitted to probate, you have to contest the Will within two years. Talk to an experienced inheritance lawyer before you challenge a Will that disinherits you.

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