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Under state law, an adopted child in your family has all the rights and benefits of a biological child. Those benefits include the rights of inheritance in most cases. However, complications may arise regarding life insurance benefits. An outdated policy may only name your other children as beneficiaries. Or, your policy may name children from a previous marriage. Age may have a factor, too. Here are the basics on adoption and life insurance rights.

Life Insurance Beneficiaries

An adopted child should legally inherit the same share as any biological child. However, a life insurance company will pay the proceeds of a policy to whomever the parent designates as a beneficiary. On a policy that only names your other children as beneficiaries, you’ll need to add your adopted child as a beneficiary. Otherwise, that child may not share life insurance benefits when you pass away.

If there is a court order pertaining to a life insurance policy from a divorce, you may need to ask the court to modify it to include your adopted child. Or, you can obtain another policy naming your adopted child as beneficiary.

Adult Adoptions

Not every state allows adult adoptions. Some may only permit them under certain conditions. In Pennsylvania, a family may adopt an adult with the consent of the adoptee once he or she is over 18 years of age. Most adult adoptions happen so that the adopted individual may benefit from an inheritance or where the adopting parent dies intestate. Once adopted, the adult adoptee severs legal ties to his or her former family. That means losing rights of inheritance and possibly beneficiary status under a life insurance policy.

Also, states treat adult adoptees differently especially when it comes to family trusts. An adult adoptee may not be considered a genuine family member for all purposes, which may include a life insurance policy. If you have any concerns, be sure to ask an experienced attorney about life insurance, trusts or other testamentary documents and how they affect the rights of your adopted child or adult.

Getting Legal Help When You Need It

There are often hidden issues and complications with adoption that can arise unexpectedly. Our attorneys have dealt with the issues that can arise in an adoption. We can advise you on your rights and the rights of your children.