In California, a Step-Parent Adoption May Cut-Off the Adopted Child’s Inheritance Rights From a Natural Parent

As set forth previously, my client’s mother was not married to my client’s natural father. My client’s mother did marry however; and her new husband, the step-parent of my client, adopted her (a “step-parent” adoption). In the world of intestacy (i.e. dying with a will), such an adoption has consequences.

In general, when someone dies without a will and without a surviving spouse or domestic partner, the children of the person who died will inherit (California Probate Code §6402). Absent special circumstances, this will include children that the person who died adopted prior to death (California Probate Code §6450).

But what if the person who died is the natural father (not the adopting father) of a person who was adopted away while in infancy, and that person died without a will? That was the situation in this case. California Probate Code §6451 states that a child who has been adopted by a step-parent may not inherit from the intestate estate of a natural parent, except under specified circumstances.

I’ll discuss those circumstances in my next post.