Can An Adopted Child Inherit From Biological Parents?
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.
For purposes of inheritance under the Texas intestacy statutes, adopted children are regarded as children of adoptive parents. Therefore, if the adoptive parents die without a Will, adopted children have the same inheritance rights as biological children.
But can adopted children inherit from their biological parents too?
A caller 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. Did she have any rights?
What Statutes Affect an Adopted Child’s Rights to Inherit ?
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.
How Can Adopted Children Learn the Identity of Biological Parents?
Texas courts usually seal adoption records. As a result, adopted children are unlikely to obtain the identity of their natural parents through the courts. This renders the inheritance rights meaningless. Nevertheless, if adopted children have knowledge of their birth parents or can prove their parentage by other means, they may be able to assert inheritance rights, unless a court has decided otherwise.
Of course, all these rules apply when someone dies without a Will. There is no law that prevents a parent from using a Will to transfer property to anyone they choose. 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.
This article was originally published on April 11, 2022 and updated on August 8, 2023.