Mt. Juliet and Lebanon TN

There are multiple questions that come up when the topic of inheritance is mentioned. One of the most common questions is who can legally inherit from the deceased? Some may argue that only biologically born children are able to inherit everything left behind by their loved one, legally. However, the law is clear about others, such as adopted children, and their right to claim an inheritance.

The biggest issue is when a child’s mother or father passes simultaneously, but neither parent left a will or trust document to determine who will inherit their belongings.

To begin with, some people are not sure whether an adopted child can inherit property or money from his or her biological parents. For that to happen, the birth parent must make the allowances in an estate plan. If the parent doesn’t have an estate plan, the child has no legal right to any claims for any portion of their biological parent’s estate.

According to Tennessee law TN Code § 31-2-105 (2018), “an adopted person is the child of an adopting parent and not of the natural parent.” The law is clear and outlines what happens when a parent passes away without first drafting a will or an estate plan.

To explain in context, meet Mark. He was adopted as an infant and has been raised by his adoptive parents James and Theresa. Mark does not know his real parents, and James and Theresa are the only parents he’s ever known.

When Mark is a young adult, tragedy strikes his family, and both James and Theresa die in an accident. They leave a considerable amount of money in the estate, and even though there is no Last Will and Testament, Mark has every legal right to claim his inheritance.

Biological Children and Adopted Children are Treated Alike

In TN Code § 31-1-101 (2018), there is further information into the definition as to who a “child” is based on their relationship to the parent, such as an individual, adopted child, or natural-born to the parents.

If there is no will that specifies who will inherit the estate, grandchildren, stepchildren, and foster children will be excluded due to the definition outlined by the law.

In addition, the term “issue” refers to lineal descendants, whether they are adopted or naturally born from the mother and father. So, what does this mean? Let’s refer back to Mark. Mark and his children will be considered the same as if they were born from James and Theresa.

In the example of Mark, his parents died in an accident. Now, if Mark is an only child, he would be entitled to the complete estate. However, if Mark has siblings, naturally born or adopted, the estate would be divided between immediate family members of the deceased.

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Estates and Last Will and Testaments can be confusing. To ensure your estate is properly handled according to your wishes, contact The Law Office of Yancy Belcher at (615) 773-2889 for a consultation or visit our website for more information.

CategoryFamily Law

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