Losing a parent at any age can be a stressful, painful time. But when you are a child who hasn’t been provided for in a Will, it’s even more difficult. What rights do you have as an adopted child to contest a parent’s Will, whether it was your adoptive or biological parents? Can you, an adopted child, contest a parent’s Will?
The short answer is yes. The law does not see a difference between adoptive and biological children. Biological and adoptive children are considered legal equals, whether your adoptive parents passed with or without a Will. You are still in the inheritance line just as a biological child would be, which means you can contest your adopted parent’s Will if you haven’t been adequately provided for, if have been left out altogether, or if they died without a Will. You have a right to pursue your inheritance because you are an eligible person.
What About a Biological Parent’s Will?
This is a more complicated question, and the short answer is sometimes.
When a biological parent puts a child up for adoption, they have to terminate their parental rights. This means adopted children have no automatic legal rights to their biological parent’s assets. However, your biological parent could choose to include you, and any other children they may have had, in their Will as a beneficiary. This request will be honoured, and the deceased estate lawyers Will contact you. However, if someone else in the family contests the Will over your inclusion, your inheritance could be overruled. If your biological parent dies without a Will or you are excluded from the Will, you Will not be an automatic beneficiary.
Though you may be listed in the Will as a beneficiary, you don’t necessarily have a right to contest the Will as your legal connection is with your adoptive parent(s), not your biological parent(s). However, there are circumstances in which you may be able to contest a Will, depending on your relationship with your biological parent(s). The best course of action is to seek legal advice.
If you form a dependent relationship with your biological parent, it’s possible to contest their Will. The legal relationship may have been severed, but by forming a dependent relationship the door to being a beneficiary reopens.
If your adoption was the result of your biological parent’s death, then the relationship wasn’t legally terminated the way it is when parents give children up for adoption. So, you would still be entitled to inherit the estate or a part of it.
What If You Believe You Have Been Unfairly Treated?
If you believe you have grounds to contest a Will, you need to seek legal advice as soon as possible. The earlier you contest it, the better. Whether you have been left out of a Will unfairly, given an unequal split with the rest of your siblings, or feel you have been overlooked, legal professionals can help you make your case.
Any eligible person can contest a Will, and an adopted child is classed as an eligible person when it comes to their adopted parent(s). It’s more complicated when the biological parent(s) is the one who passes, but if you’re unsure of your rights, you should speak to a lawyer.
How AJB Stevens Can Help
If you are in a Will dispute, you need an experienced team of estate litigation lawyers to stand up for your rights. We can assist you in challenging a Will and ensure you put forward the best case possible to win the Will estate dispute. Contesting a Will can be a time-consuming and complicated process, and you need a team of Will and Estate lawyers who understand the complex laws surrounding the process. We can guide you through the process, offer you advice on how to proceed, and fight for what you deserve. Contact AJB Stevens for your free claims assessment.
The best choice anyone can make is to get their affairs in order and make a Will. Whether you are a parent with several adopted and biological children or not, the best way to prevent Will disputes and family tension is by clearly outlining what you wish for your estate once you pass away. It’s good practice for everyone to take these steps to ensure their loved ones are protected and cared for following a tragic death. If you are a parent who has given up children for adoption and you plan to include them in your Will, you should speak to the rest of your beneficiaries. By being open and honest about your estate planning you reduce the likelihood of Will disputes, which can be a painful process for everyone involved.
A clear and current Will is an important step in estate planning, no matter how old you are. And for adopted children, the path to inheriting what is yours is clear – you are an eligible person, which legally entitles you to automatically inherit from your adoptive parents.