By Matthew T. Hovey, Esquire
In honor of National Adoption Month (November), I launched last month a ten part series on Adoptions in Pennsylvania. The tenth, and final, piece in this series focuses on the question: what are the estate reasons for an adult adoption? If you are interested in an adoption, I encourage you to please return and read my articles on adoptions.
Interestingly, while rare, an adoption can be used in estate planning. The reason is that an adult adoption, if appropriate, can simplify the passing of an individual’s estate upon his or her death. For example, lets say Russell grew up without a father and over the years became very close to Mr. Fredricksen, whose wife predeceased him and they had no children. During this time, Mr. Fredricksen becomes like a father to Russell and vice versa. Unfortunately, Mr. Fredericksen has a greedy brother who feels that he is entitled to his brother’s wealth. Nevertheless, Mr. Fredericksen wants his wealth to go to Russell, who is like a son to him. If Mr. Fredericksen leaves his estate to Russell in a will, then the potential exists that his brother could contest the will. His brother could claim Mr. Fredericksen was incompetent or unduly influenced by Russell into giving him his fortune. This could tie up the estate in litigation for years. An alternative, however, would be for Mr. Fredericksen to adopt Russell, making him his legal son. Now, upon his death, the entire estate will pass automatically to Russell and without any likely interference from the brother.
This is an example of how an adoption can be a legal tool outside of its stereotypical usage. An adoption can be used in other contexts, occasionally by same-sex couples in states that prohibit gay marriage. As a result, any quality estate planning process should, even briefly, consider the benefits of an adoption.
If you, a family member, friend, or coworker are considering an adoption, please call our office and setup a free initial consultation.