When Adult Adoption Goes Too Far (Relating to Inheritance)
By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
February 7, 2022
HAIMO: Hi. Welcome to Haimo Law. My name is Barry E. Haimo. I help families and businesses plan for and protect their immediate and long-term futures. My practice focuses exclusively on wills, trusts, probate, business planning, and asset protection. These areas are guaranteed to impact you, your loved ones and your friends, and I’m passionate about assisting you.
During these difficult economic times, I’m trying to relieve some of the consultation process. That’s why I have over 150 short videos answering your frequently asked legal questions. You can watch them on my website, or social media at your leisure. My new short videos offer you a crash course on wills, trusts, probate, business planning, and asset protection. My goal is to tie it all together and give you a big picture understanding using examples and analogies. These areas deal with life, death, health, wealth, marriage, divorce, family, children, protecting your business, shielding your assets from creditors and minimizing taxes. I’m sure you can relate to some of these.
I’ll share with you my perspective, which is based on my knowledge, experience and own person interests and closely related fields, such as financial planning, business planning and investing. I’ll try to keep these videos to about three to four minutes because I value your time. Thank you for stopping by and stay tuned for more.
Adopted children in the state of Florida are considered “descendants” under the law of intestacy. This means that in the majority of cases, adopted children are treated as children for inheritance purposes. But you may be wondering under this jurisdiction “can an adult be adopted?” And if so, how is inheritance effected?
“Class Gifts” and Beneficiaries
If a lawfully adopted grandchild was deemed as an equal beneficiary of an estate, it is considered a “class gift”. The class is determined upon death of the testator (last will and testament) or grantor (trust). For example, if there are three legitimate grandchildren and one adopted grandchild, the adopted grandchild will receive an equal share, in this case, one-fourth.
But Can an Adult Be Adopted?
The issue presented here is that neither the law nor documents generally provide a limitation on adoption for purposes of class gifts. So can an adult be adopted under the terms of a will? And should there be age or timing limitations (such as when the order is entered)? In the above example, consider if one of the children adopted an adult, thereby resulting in the deceased testator (last will and testament) or grantor (trust) having five grandchildren at the time of his death.
Under Florida jurisdiction, each beneficiary now goes from receiving one-fourth of the estate to one-fifth. If the estate is valued at several million dollars, that can be an expensive difference.
Take a look at a sample adult adoption clause:
Effect of Adoption. A legally adopted child (and any descendants of that child) will be regarded as a descendant of the adopting parent only if the petition for adoption was filed with the court before the child’s eighteenth birthday. If the legal relationship between a parent and child is terminated by a court while the parent is alive, that child and that child’s descendants will not be regarded as descendants of that parent. If a parent dies and the legal relationship with that deceased parent’s child had not been terminated before that parent’s death, the deceased parent’s child and that child’s descendants will continue to be regarded as descendants of the deceased parent even if the child is later adopted by another person.
At Haimo Law, we pay special attention to drafting and thoroughly discuss the terms for matters like adult adoption. Our goal is to help you make an informed decision that suits the needs of you, your family and your estate.
Originally published 02/07/2022. Updated 07/05/2013.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose®
YOU ARE NOT OUR CLIENT UNLESS WE EXECUTE A WRITTEN AGREEMENT TO THAT EFFECT. MOREOVER, THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. EACH SITUATION IS HIGHLY FACT SPECIFIC AND EXCEPTIONS OFTEN EXIST TO GENERAL RULES. DO NOT RELY ON THIS INFORMATION, AS A CONSULTATION TO UNDERSTAND THE FACTS AND THE CLIENT’S NEEDS AND GOALS IS NECESSARY. ULTIMATELY WE MUST BE RETAINED TO PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE AND REPRESENTATION. THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDED AS A COURTESY AND, ACCORDINGLY, DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE.