Houston families with adopted children have to keep certain concerns in mind while estate planning. If a child is not formally and legally adopted, that child generally will not receive the same treatment in the event of a parent’s death. Inheritance and property will not usually pass on to that child in the same way that they would to a biological child. Adoptions can take a long time to become final. Until an adoption has been finalized, the child is not considered a child in the same way that a biological child is for estate purposes.
For example, a stepchild who was raised by a stepparent may be considered the same as a natural child within the family, but if the stepchild was not legally adopted by the stepparent, the child will not be treated in the same way under Texas estate law. In the event of the stepparent’s death, Texas estate law would not treat that child the same as a biological child. This means that if the stepparent died without a will, generally, the stepchild would not inherit any of the stepparent’s assets. However, there are some circumstances under Texas law in which a child can inherit from a stepparent and where there was an agreement to adopt the child.
If a parent legally adopts a child, under the Texas Estates Code, that child will be treated in the same way as a natural child. In the event of a legal adoption, generally, the child’s biological parents’ parental rights will be terminated. In some cases, that child will lose their right to inherit by default as a child from their biological parents. However, in Texas, an adopted child normally can also inherit from the child’s natural parents.
If an adoptive parent wants to ensure that a child receives an inheritance in the event of the parent’s death before the adoption is finalized, the parent may consider writing or updating their will to include the adopted child. The parent can specify in the will that the adopted child will be considered in the same way as a biological child and can ensure that assets will be left for the child. Similarly, a will should be updated after an adoption is finalized to ensure that after-adopted children are included.
Proper estate planning also includes designating a guardian in a parent’s will. The guardian is the person who cares for the child in the event the parents are unable to care for the child. In the case of an adopted child, it may be useful to provide the guardian with the details of the child’s adoption, including what kind of adoption took place and what the parent’s wishes are concerning communication with biological parents while the child is still a minor.
Contact a Houston Estate Planning Law Firm
The law firm of McCulloch & Miller, PLLC provides estate planning, tax planning, and long-term care planning for individuals, aging adults, and their families. Our Houston estate planning law firm works with families to plan for their futures and create a care plan that makes sense for each family’s unique needs. The dedicated lawyers at McCulloch & Miller have decades of collective experience handling all types of wills, trusts, and probate issues. To learn more about our firm and what services we can provide for your family, contact us online or call us at (713) 333-8900.