Inheritance Rights of Adopted Children in New York

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Adopted children in New York have the same inheritance rights as biological children.

Adopted children inherit from and through the adoptive parents.  The adoptive parents and the adopted child have the legal relation of parent and child, and all of the the inheritance and  rights that come with that relation under New York law.  Learn about New York inheritance laws when there is no will here.

Do Adopted Children Have Inheritance Rights In a Birth Parent’s Estate?

No.  Adopted children lose their rights to inheritance and succession from and through his or her birth parents upon an order of adoption in New York.   This is the rule when the adopted child is adopted by a non-family member, also described as being adopted-out of the birth family.

There are some exceptions to this general rule.

Adoption By Stepparent Or Birth Grandparent Or Descendant

When a child is adopted by a stepparent married to a birth parent or adopted by a birth grandparent or anyone descended from a birth grandparent, the inheritance rights of the adopted child are different under New York law.  The rights of an adopted child to inheritance and succession from and through either birth parent shall not terminate upon the making of the order of adoption.

However, an adopted child who is related to the decedent both by birth relationship and by adoption shall be entitled to inherit only under the birth relationship unless the decedent also is the adoptive parent, in which case the adoptive child shall then be entitled to inherit pursuant to the adoptive relationship only. These rules can be found in New York Domestic Relations Law 117.

What if An Adopted Child Is not Included In A Will?

If an adopted person is not specifically included in a will, they would still inherit if there is a disposition of property to persons described as the issue, children, descendants, heirs, heirs-at-law, next-of-kin, or distributees, unless the creator of a will expresses a contrary intention.  Such a class includes adopted children and their issue.  This rule can be found in New York EPTL 2-1.3, which states in relevant part:

(a) Unless the creator expresses a contrary intention, a disposition of property to persons described in any instrument as the issue, children, descendants, heirs, heirs at law, next of kin, distributees (or by any term of like import) of the creator or of another, includes:

(1) Adopted children and their issue in their adoptive relationship. The rights of adopted children and their issue to receive a disposition under wills and lifetime instruments as a member of such class of persons based upon their birth relationship shall be governed by the provisions of subdivision two of section one hundred seventeen of the domestic relations law.

 

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