Probate, trust, guardianship and inheritance litigation
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Inheritance Rights of Adopted Children in California

By Andrew Gold, Esq.

Inheritance rights of adopted children in California are the same as biological children.  The adoptive parent and the adopted child have a legal parent and child relationship.

What Inheritance Rights Exist When There Is No Will?

A legal parent child relationship exists between the adoptive parent and adopted child.  Therefore, the adopted child is treated the same as any biological child under California laws of intestate succession.  Ca Prob Code 6450.

What Inheritance Rights Exist If An Adopted Child Is Not Included In A Will?

If not specifically included in a will, adopted persons, if appropriate to the class, are included in terms of a class gift or relationship.  Ca Prob Code 21115.

If an adopted child is not included in the will because the child was adopted after the execution of the will, the omitted adopted child has inheritance rights to a share in the estate equal in value to that which the child would have received under California law if the decedent had died intestate.  Ca Prob Code 21620.

Does An Adopted Child Have Inheritance Rights in A Birth Parent’s Estate?

Yes, but only if:

  1. The birth parent and the adopted person lived together at any time as parent and child, or the birth parent was married to or cohabiting with the other birth parent at the time the person was conceived and died before the person’s birth.
  2. The adoption was by the spouse of either of the birth parents or after the death of either of the birth parents.

Both of the above requirements must be satisfied.  If they are not, then the adoption severs the relationship of parent and child between an adopted person and a natural parent of the adopted person.  CA Prob Code 6451.  The adopted child would simply inherit through the adoptive parents as discussed herein.


Andrew S. Gold, Esq.

Probate & Trust Litigation

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(650) 450-9600