Thursday, September 13, 2012
Jackie Messler (J.D. 2012, Marquette University Law School) recently published her article entitled The Inconsistent Inheritance Rights of Adult Adoptees and a Proposal For Uniformity, 95 Marq. L. Rev. 1043 (2012). The introduction to the article is below:
In the areas of trust and will interpretation, states vary on how to interpret class gifts that include language such as “issue,” “heirs,” and “children.” This variance is one motivation for people to undertake drastic measures such as adult adoption. For example, Father and Mother set up a trust to benefit their children, X, Y, & Z. Z dislikes his siblings but has no spouse or children. Z wants to make sure his share of his parents' trust does not go to his siblings. Z adopts a good friend of his, T, who is an adult. Jurisdictions vary on how to interpret T's interest and vary on T's ability to benefit from Z's parents' trust. Some statutes only restrict an adult adoptee's ability to inherit from a third party when the testamentary documents specifically prohibit such inheritance. Other statutes set a strict age limit, disallowing an adult adoptee to inherit from a third party when they are adopted after age eighteen. Although the example illustrates one motivation for adult adoption, most times an adoption is a result of a close and loving relationship. The goal of the adoption is to make the person a genuine member of the family. As it stands, states do not uniformly treat adult adoptees as genuine members of the family. A default rule that uniformly recognizes the adoptee's inheritance rights generally aligns with the adoptor's motivation for the adoption.