How do wills and estates affect adopted children?

If you have adopted a child or are an adoptee, what happens when either adoptive or birth parents die under Ohio law? Do laws differ either with or without a will? Do adoptees have a right to a birth parent’s inheritance, or a right to their adopted parents’ inheritance?

Per the federal Child Welfare Information Gateway, in normal circumstances an adopted child has no right to their birth parent’s inheritance upon death. The act of adoption severs all legal relationship between the birth parents and adoptee. This statute stands as default in the event of an intestate death with no valid will, or a valid will that does not name the adoptee in the will.

Only a valid will that names the adopted child would entitle the child to any parts of their birth parent’s inheritance, save for in one other specific instance. That instance involves the birth parent dying and the child being adopted by that parent’s spouse. In that case, rights of legal inheritance remain.

In the case of the relationship between adopted parents and an adoptee, the adoptee is legally entitled to the adopted parents’ inheritance in the event of an intestate death without a will. In the event of a will that does not include the adoptee, the adoptee may still be entitled to an equal portion of the inheritance unless statements in the will specifically disinherit the adopted child.

This blog should be used for information purposes only, and does not qualify as legal advice.