PDA

View Full Version : Adoption question



Kryianna
07-21-2008, 05:52 AM
My character's father was out of the picture. Her mom remarried a bunch of times. Husband number two adopted my MC, and died a few months later.

I need the MC to be the heir to husband number two's family estate when it comes available. Since she was adopted, she is legally his daughter.

My question is, can any of the later husbands adopt her as well? The legality of the kinship would be at the time the guy died, right?

I don't need her to be adopted again, so if it's not possible, I won't. But if I can, it might make for some interesting plot elements.

Keyan
07-21-2008, 08:40 AM
I believe they can, but then she would no longer be the heir to husband #2.

I presume when you mean "family estate" it would be something like her adoptive grandfather leaving his property to all his grandchildren, whether by birth or by adoption. (Though of course he could specifically include her in his will, even if she has been adopted by someone else.)

IceCreamEmpress
07-21-2008, 08:21 PM
If she were adopted by husband #3, she would still be husband #2's legal heir, because she was his daughter at the time he died.

The Grift
07-22-2008, 12:11 AM
Unless husband/dad #2 died intestate (without a will) it wouldn't matter anyway... he could leave anything and everything he wanted to her. All this nonsense about who gets what money when someone dies only applies when the person dies without a will or there is a genuine question as to the legitimacy of the will.

ideagirl
07-22-2008, 12:19 AM
Unless husband/dad #2 died intestate (without a will) it wouldn't matter anyway... he could leave anything and everything he wanted to her.

Right, but it would matter if husband/dad #2's will was not the will at issue. As the other poster noted, husband/dad #2 could be the heir in someone else's will (e.g. his parents), and his share of that will could descend to his child or children, regardless of what his own will might say and regardless of whether he had a will.

Example: h/d #2's dad leaves a will that divides his estate equally between his four kids, with their descendants to take per stirpes. That means if h/d #2 dies BEFORE his dad dies, then when the dad dies, 1/4 of the dad's estate will go straight to h/d#2's child or children... i.e. to the main character in the OP's story.


All this nonsense about who gets what money when someone dies only applies when the person dies without a will or there is a genuine question as to the legitimacy of the will.

Not necessarily. See above.

The Grift
07-22-2008, 12:44 AM
Right, but it would matter if husband/dad #2's will was not the will at issue. As the other poster noted, husband/dad #2 could be the heir in someone else's will (e.g. his parents), and his share of that will could descend to his child or children, regardless of what his own will might say and regardless of whether he had a will.

Example: h/d #2's dad leaves a will that divides his estate equally between his four kids, with their descendants to take per stirpes. That means if h/d #2 dies BEFORE his dad dies, then when the dad dies, 1/4 of the dad's estate will go straight to h/d#2's child or children... i.e. to the main character in the OP's story.



Good point, and yes, as a caveat, if the will is non-specific in terms of beneficiaries ("I leave my fortune in equal shares to my living children,") there could also be issues. But if she is a named beneficiary in a non-contested will, her exact status isn't so important.

IceCreamEmpress
07-22-2008, 12:50 AM
Right, but it would matter if husband/dad #2's will was not the will at issue. As the other poster noted, husband/dad #2 could be the heir in someone else's will (e.g. his parents), and his share of that will could descend to his child or children, regardless of what his own will might say and regardless of whether he had a will.

Yep. And the fact that the character was, indeed, Husband #2's legal child at the time of his death wouldn't be affected by any subsequent adoptions--husband #2 never legally terminated his parental rights.

Keyan
07-22-2008, 01:06 AM
Actually, it turns out to be a bit complicated, and possibly dependent on where the family lives. Apparently, while an adoptee can clearly inherit from a dead adoptive parent, it isn't necessarily true that he or she will inherit from another family member, depending on the state.

http://encyclopedia.adoption.com/entry/inheritance/186/1.html

If this is an important plot point, perhaps talking to a lawyer in the relavant state would be a good idea?

Kryianna
07-22-2008, 06:10 PM
Wow, even more complicated than I thought! The MC would be inheriting property in Scotland from the dead adopted father's aunt. She's the only person left alive to inherit (that I know of at this time of the book :) ).

It sounds like I'm probably okay, at least in terms of believability for a first draft. If I get enough of the way through this manuscript where I want to be sure, I'll figure out how to ask a lawyer in Scotland.

IceCreamEmpress
07-22-2008, 10:41 PM
Wow, even more complicated than I thought! The MC would be inheriting property in Scotland from the dead adopted father's aunt. She's the only person left alive to inherit (that I know of at this time of the book :) ).

It really isn't complicated as long as the aunt's will says "I leave to my nephew, Joe Smith, or to any of his natural or legal issue, heirs or assigns, {whatever she's leaving}". This is a very common form of wording in wills in the US--I am sure that there is a similar formula in Scotland.

Your protag would be Joe Smith's "legal issue" as well as his heir, and no subsequent adoption would affect that.

And really, the simplest thing to do would be for the stepfather to have made a will designating his adopted daughter as his heir. Then there would be no legal issues at all, no matter what the stepfather's aunt's will said.

Keyan
07-22-2008, 11:34 PM
I don't know what the plot needs are, but the simplest would be for the aunt to just leave everything to her by name.

If you need to set up a conflict around the legacy, then of course you would *want* some confusion.