Accounting for Stepchildren and Adopted Children in An Estate Plan | Law Firm Newswire

Accounting for Stepchildren and Adopted Children in An Estate Plan

Hook Law Center (formerly Oast & Hook)

Hook Law Center (formerly Oast & Hook)

Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) September 19, 2016 – In families with adopted children or stepchildren who have not been formally adopted, there can be some estate planning challenges.

More attention must be given to estate planning involving a family that consists of an unmarried couple in which one member has children, either biological or adopted, who are not also the children of the other member of the couple. In such a scenario, the couple should have a thorough understanding of their estate planning options.

In most cases, adopted children are treated in the same manner as biological children with respect to estate planning. Therefore, they are treated equally according to a state’s intestate succession laws, which have authority over who inherits property when there is no will. Additionally, adopted children are usually treated the same as biological children regarding wills or trusts that bequeath gifts or distributions to a class of individuals, including “children” even in cases where the child was adopted following the execution of the will or trust.

Andrew H. Hook, a prominent Virginia estate planning attorney with Hook Law Center with offices in Virginia Beach and northern Suffolk, states, “Individuals who have adopted children or stepchildren whom they have not legally adopted, should state their intent to bequeath property to them in their estate plan.”
Stepchildren usually do not have any inheritance rights regarding their parent’s new spouse unless the spouse adopts them legally. Thus, if a spouse has stepchildren, and wishes them to benefit from the estate, the spouse should initiate adoption proceedings or modify the estate plan to leave a bequest for them.

Prior to adopting stepchildren, both spouses should think about the possible impact on the capacity of the children to inherit from the relatives of their other biological parent. In the majority of states, after a stepparent adopts a child, the adoption decree causes a separation between the child and the family of his or her other biological parent. As a result, the child is unable to inherit by way of intestate succession from the family of that biological parent, and vice versa.

An increasing number of states currently allow second-parent adoptions, in which an unmarried individual adopts the biological or adopted children of a partner without ending the parental rights of the partner. But even in states that acknowledge second-parent adoption, intestate succession laws may not allow a child to inherit from the second parent.

Estate planning is particularly important for unmarried couples who cannot, or decide not to, secure a second-parent adoption if they wish the “non-parent” to gain custody of the child in the event the “parent” dies or loses capacity and if the non-parent wishes the child to benefit from the estate.

The “parent” is advised to consider the use of a power of attorney to grant authority to the “parent,” and to designate the “non-parent” as a guardian to make certain that the “non-parent” can make decisions on behalf of the child. A power of attorney is also needed to ensure that the “non-parent” has precedence over the blood relatives of the “parent” if the “parent” dies or loses capacity. In addition, it is recommended that both partners change their wills. The “parent’s” will should designate the partner as guardian for the child, and the “non-parent’s” will should stipulate any property to be left to the child.

Hook Law Center
295 Bendix Road, Suite 170
Virginia Beach, Virginia 23452-1294
Phone: 757-399-7506
Fax: 757-397-1267

SUFFOLK
5806 Harbour View Blvd.
Suite 203
Suffolk VA 23435
Phone: 757-399-7506
Fax: 757-397-1267
http://www.hooklawcenter.com/

  • New Tax Legislation Introduced – What to Expect
    <p>Earlier this year we reported President Biden’s tax plan which included items such as raising the corporate tax rate, raising the highest marginal income tax rate, eliminating the step-up in basis at a taxpayer’s death and revising the estate tax scheme to be similar to the capital gains tax we are currently familiar with. These [...]</p>
    <p><a class="btn btn-secondary bravehart-read-more-link" href="https://hooklawcenter.com/2021/09/17/new-tax-legislation-introduced-what-to-expect/">Read More...</a></p>
    <p>The post <a href="https://hooklawcenter.com/2021/09/17/new-tax-legislation-introduced-what-to-expect/" target="_blank">New Tax Legislation Introduced - What to Expect</a> first appeared on <a href="https://hooklawcenter.com/" target="_blank">Hook Law Center</a>.</p>
  • Can a nursing home sue an agent under a power of attorney for unpaid bills?
    <p>If you are the agent under a power of attorney for a parent or loved one, you may often sign documents on their behalf. However, it is important to be careful what you sign – and how you sign it. If you are the agent under a power of attorney for someone who is moving [...]</p>
    <p><a class="btn btn-secondary bravehart-read-more-link" href="https://hooklawcenter.com/2021/09/09/nursing-home-sue-for-unpaid-bills/">Read More...</a></p>
    <p>The post <a href="https://hooklawcenter.com/2021/09/09/nursing-home-sue-for-unpaid-bills/" target="_blank">Can a nursing home sue an agent under a power of attorney for unpaid bills?</a> first appeared on <a href="https://hooklawcenter.com/" target="_blank">Hook Law Center</a>.</p>
  • Understanding the Caretaker Child Exception
    <p>Many of our clients have heard of the “five-year lookback” but few understand what it actually means. In essence, since Medicaid is a payer of last resort, the government wants to ensure that people are not divesting themselves of assets with the purpose of impoverishing themselves to establish Medicaid eligibility for long-term care services. By [...]</p>
    <p><a class="btn btn-secondary bravehart-read-more-link" href="https://hooklawcenter.com/2021/09/03/understanding-the-caretaker-child-exception/">Read More...</a></p>
    <p>The post <a href="https://hooklawcenter.com/2021/09/03/understanding-the-caretaker-child-exception/" target="_blank">Understanding the Caretaker Child Exception</a> first appeared on <a href="https://hooklawcenter.com/" target="_blank">Hook Law Center</a>.</p>
  • Charitable and Tax Planning with Charitable Lead Trusts
    <p>A Charitable Lead Trust (“CLT”) is tax beneficial way to achieve a donor’s philanthropic goals and pass assets to heirs at a reduced transfer tax rate. A CLT is a powerful tool for donors who anticipate high estate and gift taxes. Conceptually, when the trust is created, the donor designates a charitable beneficiary(ies). The donor [...]</p>
    <p><a class="btn btn-secondary bravehart-read-more-link" href="https://hooklawcenter.com/2021/08/30/charitable-and-tax-planning-with-charitable-lead-trusts/">Read More...</a></p>
    <p>The post <a href="https://hooklawcenter.com/2021/08/30/charitable-and-tax-planning-with-charitable-lead-trusts/" target="_blank">Charitable and Tax Planning with Charitable Lead Trusts</a> first appeared on <a href="https://hooklawcenter.com/" target="_blank">Hook Law Center</a>.</p>
  • The Dangers of Holographic (Handwritten) Wills
    <p>There are two types of wills: (1) holographic and (2) non-holographic. Non-holographic – or typed, witnessed and attested wills – are the most common and the type that people are most familiar with. A holographic will is a will written entirely in the handwriting of the testator and signed by that individual. It does not [...]</p>
    <p><a class="btn btn-secondary bravehart-read-more-link" href="https://hooklawcenter.com/2021/08/19/the-dangers-of-holographic-handwritten-wills/">Read More...</a></p>
    <p>The post <a href="https://hooklawcenter.com/2021/08/19/the-dangers-of-holographic-handwritten-wills/" target="_blank">The Dangers of Holographic (Handwritten) Wills</a> first appeared on <a href="https://hooklawcenter.com/" target="_blank">Hook Law Center</a>.</p>

Tags: , , , ,



Get headlines from Law Firm Newswire sent right to your inbox.

* indicates required