When people think of adoptions, they most think of the process of adopting a child. However, adults can be adopted. Adult adoption involving an individual over the age of 18 occurs primarily for 2 reasons: to formalize an existing parental relationship, or for inheritance purposes.
Many people are not raised by their biological parents. However, those who raised them may not have formalized an adoption. Usually that occurs if those who raised the person never terminated the biological parents’ rights. Once the person is over 18, that person and the adoptive parents can agree and file for an adoption together without the lengthy termination of biological parental rights battle. The parental rights of the biological parents are still terminated, and notice must be provided to the biological parents. The person being adopted must only provide a sworn consent to have those rights terminated. Then the adoptive parents and the adoptee can file together to formalize the adoption. This is a special act to formalize that relationship — to show the world that these are your parents, in every sense of the world.
Inheritance is also a reason for adult adoption. Once an adult adoption is official, that person is their child; however, if the person adopted is 22 or older, the estate planning documents must list that person by name and not just say “child” or “children” to be valid. If the person being adopted is 18-21, then the law recognizes the person as their child even for estate planning purposes. It is always best to err on the side of caution and list everyone by name. It is also a good idea to update estate planning documents whenever there is a new addition to your family.
Families come in all shapes and sizes, regardless of how old you are. That is why adult adoptions exist. If you are interested in formalizing a relationship with those who raised you, give us a call.
Leah Smith is an attorney at Held Law Firm