For purposes of an inheritance under the laws of descent and distribution in Texas, adopted children are regarded as children of the the adoptive parents.
Therefore, if the adoptive parents die without a Will, adopted children have the same inheritance rights as biological children under the intestacy statutes.
But can adopted children inherit from their biological parents too? This is a question someone recently asked me.
She explained that her grandparents had adopted her half-sibling. After her grandparents died, the half-sibling inherited from them. Her mother recently died, and the half-sibling made a claim to her mother’s estate too.
Section 201.054 of the Texas Estates Code states that an adopted child “inherits from and through the child’s natural parent or parents.”
Additionally, Section 161.206 of the Family Code states that in cases involving the termination of the parent child relationship, the child retains the right to inherit from and through the parent, unless the court rules otherwise.
Therefore, in Texas, adopted children can inherit from and through their biological parents unless there is a decree terminating the parent-child relationship that specifically removes the child’s right to inherit from and through the biological parents.
Adoption records are usually sealed by law in Texas. As a result, adopted children are unlikely to obtain the identity of their natural parents, which renders the inheritance rights meaningless. However, in cases where a adopted children know their biological parents, or can establish maternity or paternity another way, they could assert inheritance rights unless a court has ruled otherwise.
Of course, all these rules apply when someone dies without a Will. There is no law that restricts a parent from disposing of his property by Will in any way he chooses. Therefore, a person who has given their child up for adoption has a right to make a Will that disinherits that child even if a court has not ruled otherwise.
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