Intestate succession protects adopted descendants

Intestate succession occurs when there is no will or other instrument to direct some or all of a deceased person’s estate. Often it occurs when a person fails to execute a will or take other measures to direct his or her property in the event of death.

Lack of will for large estate can result in many claims

When a decedent did not create a will or other arrangement to direct the estate, and the estate is sizable, much burdensome litigation can ensue. The death of the famous musician, Prince, has implicated intestate succession issues.

As reported by USA Today, Prince had no known children, no surviving spouse and his parents pre-deceased him. Predictably, perhaps, people have been climbing out of the woodwork claiming to have a connection to Prince that would allow them a cut of his estate, via the rules of intestate success. At least one of them claims to be the unknown but adopted son of Prince.

Aside from the question of what documentary proof exists confirming such adoption, one may wonder what happens when a person is the adopted descendant of a deceased person who has an estate but no will.

Florida treats adopted children like biological children

Like many states, the children of a deceased person receive protections under the intestate succession laws of Florida’s Probate Code section 732.103 and 732.108. For that part of the estate that is not otherwise going to a surviving spouse, the descendants, which include the children, are first in line to receive. If there are no children, but there are other descendants, such as grandchildren, then those descendants will collect part of the estate as descendants.

Florida law makes it clear that children include natural or adopted, in wedlock or outside of wedlock. Adopted children, in Florida’s probate laws, have rights equal to those that naturally born children have. Section 732.108 of Florida’s Probate Code explains that this identical treatment exists in the area of intestate succession.

An adopted person is a descendant of the adopting parent. Further, the adopted person is one of the kindred of the adopting parent’s family. Thus, a grandchild that is adopted can inherit via intestate succession from a grandparent, just as biological grandchildren may. Adopted people are not the descendants, however, of the parents they were born to, and thus are not kindred of anyone in the family of the biological parents.