Q: Adopted sister and possible lack of a will
She was adopted as a baby and is now 42. If she doesn't have a will, or that her wishes are spelled out, will her biological mother/siblings be entitled to what she owned after she passes away, or would it go to her adopted family?
A: If someone passes away without a Will, they are deemed to have died Intestate. Minnesota then sets forth a "default estate plan" for the person. This default plan basically sets forth that the persons closest living family members have priority to act as the Personal Representative (or Executor) and that the person's estate is to be split equally among the closest living relatives.
In a situation of adoption, state law controls. In Minnesota, the law states that an adopted child is treated as if he or she had been born to the adoptive parents (having a parent-child relationship). This severs the ties to the person's biological family and places the adoptive family in a recognizable, legal relationship with the adopted person. What this means is that the adopted person has no right to an inheritance from his or her biological parents. In the situation above, the adoptive family should be your adopted sister's rightful heirs in the event that she has no Will or other testamentary documents. This is set forth by Minnesota Statute 524.2-116 and 524.2-118
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