Adult Adoption and Estate Planning

The process of adult adoption is often used as a method of formalizing an existing parent-child relationship or of providing financial protection for a stepchild, friend or same-sex partner, especially if the adopter is opposed to creating a will. However, adult adoption can also be considered as an estate planning strategy because it can be utilized as a method of securing inheritance rights for the adoptee. Here, the estate planning attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein provides an overview of adult adoption and its role in estate planning.

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is the process of legally organizing your affairs so that your assets can be properly distributed to your loved ones after death. An estate plan allocates your property to whom you choose while attempting to incur the least expense for your estate and heirs. Estate plans can range in complexity, from the equal distribution of resources to family members, to a more complicated plan involving trusts.

Estate plans can include such entities as life estate deeds, beneficiaries on bank accounts and wills and trusts, and can involve a financial power of attorney or an advanced medical directive. It is important to develop an estate plan and regularly update it in order to prepare for the distribution of your property upon death or incapacity and to duly transfer your property to your loved ones.

Why is Adult Adoption Used as an Estate Planning Resource?

Adult adoption is often considered as an estate planning strategy to ensure the adoptee’s financial protection and legal inheritance of assets. After an adult is adopted, they will be legally capable of inheriting property and assets as if they were the adopter’s natural-born child. The adoption process for adults is the same as the process for children—a new birth certificate will be issued for the adoptee, who will have the option to change their surname if necessary. The legal relationship to the adoptee’s biological parents will be terminated upon the completion of the adoption process.

What Conflicts Can Arise Concerning Adult Adoption?

Problems can occur during the process of estate distribution between blood-related family members and a legally adopted adult. For instance, struggles can occur if blood relatives attempt to keep the inheritances in the family and away from an adult with legal status as a family member. Also, the adoption process is a complicated one to reverse, so if conflict ensues between the adopter and the adoptee, it can be difficult to resolve the desire to end the adoption. Speak with an estate planning attorney to discuss these potential challenges and ensure that adult adoption is the right choice for you.

Does Every State Allow Adult Adoption?

The legality of adult adoption varies from state to state. Some states do not allow for the adoption of adults whatsoever. Other states require that the adoptee must be younger than their adopter, or that the adoptee is of diminished mental capacity. It is imperative to investigate your state’s regulations regarding adult adoption before pursuing any legal action. In Maryland, adult adoption is legal, provided the proper documentation is completed.  

Speak with Estate Planning Attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein About Adult Adoption

Adult adoption has become more popular over the years as an estate planning strategy, however, there are complexities surrounding the legalities of the adult adoption process. The estate planning attorney Douglas C. Lauenstein will be able to help you navigate the options available regarding estate planning, elder care and adult adoption. To schedule a free consultation, contact Douglas C. Lauenstein today!