In this article, we will discuss the importance of estate planning after adoption and answer the following questions:
As a person enters into the workforce, begins to accumulate assets, and possibly has children through adoption or other means, having an estate plan written up is one way to protect the various parts of their life in the event of an untimely death or as one enters into old age. The primary reason for executing an estate plan is twofold: 1) Keeping your assets from going through probate, and 2) Making sure that your assets go to the individual(s) you designate. People also create trusts and other estate planning vehicles to protect assets when they are still alive. The point is that as you accumulate things and money, it’s important to have a safety net should anything unexpected happen. A proper estate plan will ensure:
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Illinois’ intestate laws determine how inheritance is divided if no will or trust exists for the decedent. Normally, when someone dies their spouse would receive half the estate with the children receiving the other half. If the decedent is not survived by the spouse or the decedent didn’t have any children the inheritance would move onto the next individual(s) according to Illinois intestate law. But what about if one or more of the children are adopted? In Illinois, upon completion of the adoption, it is as if the adoptee had been born to the parents. That means that the adopted person would be treated no differently under Illinois intestate law. The one caveat to normal Illinois intestate law is when an adult is legally adopted by another adult. In this case, the adoptee is the heir of the adoptive parents but not the adoptive parents’ relatives. For more information on Illinois intestate law click here.
As mentioned above, under Illinois law an adopted child is considered the same as a child born to the parents. When crafting an estate plan the parents of the adopted child won’t need to add any special language indicating their child was adopted. However, relatives of the parents and adopted child may need to be more specific in their will or trust depending on what state they live in or if they live in another country. This is because some states and countries have different rules regarding wills and trust, with some using the term “blood relative” as the de facto language. In this situation, it could be argued by the other heirs or beneficiaries that an adopted child is not a “blood relative” and thus has no legal claim to a decedent’s assets in a will or trust. In order to avoid a potential conflict, adoptive parents can ask their relatives to list their adopted child by name in any will or trust, or use the language “adopted children, adopted grandchildren, etc.”
If you have any questions about Illinois intestate law, estate planning, or adoption, give our office a call at 630-324-6666 and speak with one of our experienced family attorneys.
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