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Adoption and Life Insurance Rights

Adoptions are occasions for celebrations. Under state law, you are introducing a new individual into your family who has all the rights and benefits of a biological child including the rights of inheritance in most cases.

Complications may arise regarding life insurance benefits, however, where a policy may specifically name your other children as beneficiaries but no others, or where your policy may only name children from a previous marriage. Also, what happens when the adopted child is over 18 years of age? Further, what rights apply in same-sex marriages? Adoption lawyer Thomas Petrelli, Jr. discusses considerations of life insurance beneficiaries who are adopted family members.

Life Insurance Beneficiaries

Although an adopted child is entitled to inherit the same share as any other child of that parent, the proceeds of a life insurance policy is subject to be paid to whomever the parent designates as a beneficiary. If your life insurance policy only names your other children as beneficiaries, you have to add your adopted child as another beneficiary or that child may not share in the proceeds of that policy when you pass away.

If there is a court order pertaining to a life insurance policy from a previous divorce, you may need to have the court order modified to include your adopted child, or simply obtain another policy naming your adopted child as beneficiary.

Adult Adoptions

Adult adoptions are not allowed in every state, while some may only permit it only under certain conditions. In Pennsylvania, an adult may be adopted simply with the consent of the adoptee once he or she is over 18 years of age.

Most adult adoptions are performed so that the adopted individual may benefit from an inheritance or where the adopting parent dies intestate. Once adopted, the adult adoptee’s legal ties to his or her former family is severed, which include no rights of inheritance from the former parent and possible loss of beneficiary status under a life insurance policy kept by the former parent.

Also, states treat adult adoptees differently especially where family trusts are involved. An adult adoptee may not be considered or treated as a genuine family member for all purposes, which may include a life insurance policy. If you have any concerns, be sure to ask an attorney from the Petrelli Law, P.C. firm about any life insurance, trusts or other testamentary documents and how they affect the rights of your adopted child or adult.

Same-Sex Marriage Adoptions

Not all states allow marriages between same-sex couples or permit adoptions in same-sex households. Pennsylvania law, however, does permit such marriages. If one parent is the biological parent, the other partner or spouse may become a legal parent by a second parent adoption.

If your adoption crosses state lines, there may be an issue of which state law applies.

Once adopted, the child is covered as a dependent of the adopting parent’s health and life insurance benefits as well as rights to Social Security and other federal benefits.

Retain Petrelli Law, P.C.

Adoptions may seem simple, but there are often hidden issues and complications that can arise that you may not have foreseen. The attorneys at Petrelli Law, P.C. have dealt with the myriad issues that can arise in an adoption and will advise you on how to proceed to achieve your goal of extending your family through adoption. Understand your rights and the rights of your children by talking to one of our attorneys today at (215) 523-6900.