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Do adopted children inherit the same as natural children?

Many people ask whether adopted children have the same inheritance rights as natural children. In New York a child that is adopted by a new family gets full inheritance rights from their adopting family.

Generally speaking the adopted children will lose their inheritance rights from their natural parents or members of their natural family. However there are exceptions to this for instance if the child is adopted by the spouse of one of the birth parents or the child is adopted by a relative.

We have seen cases where children who thought they were adopted were in reality not adopted, as in their paperwork was not complete and did not go through. Some children have even thought that they were biological children when in reality they were not even adopted children.

Step-children are not considered children unless they were adopted with all of the requirements of an adoption being met and the adoption having been court-ordered by a judge.

If a valid Last Will and Testament is made, than children can inherit even if they were not adopted nor biological, for example children with incomplete adoptions or step-children.

If you would like to discuss your individual situation involving inheritance of adopted children, you can contact New York Estate Attorney Albert Goodwin, Esq. by calling (212) 233-1233.

What happens if a item I gift in a will isn’t there when I die?

The answer to that question depends on what type of gift in your will was left. Generally speaking, under New York estate law, if you leave something as a “specific gift” (my car to…) then the gift will fail and the person will receive nothing if the item mentioned in the “specific gift” is not available.

If the gift is a “demonstrative gift” (give John the $5,000 from the sale of my car), if the item is not available to sell then this gift is treated as a general gift and the gift does not fail. Instead, the money could come from a source as if it was a general legacy (gift).

General legacies(“$5,000 to bill”) or general gifts typically do not fail as long as there is some amount of money in the estate.

The only way to really determine what will happen regarding gifts in a will, in New York, is to speak with a New York estate attorney who can advise you on your specific issues. If you wish to speak to an NYC estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233. Also available at a Garden City, Long Island office.

Can I write my own will, without a witness, by myself and just sign it?

Can I write my own will, without a witness, by myself and just sign it?

On some television shows or movies people just write their own will with a pen and piece of paper. When a will is entirely self-written by the testator (the person whose will it is) and unwitnessed it is a holographic will. In New York, this type of will is generally not valid.  There are a few exceptions, where this type of will would be valid in New York including if it was written by a member of the armed forces during a war or written by a mariner at sea..these are however narrow exceptions.

If the handwritten will was properly witnessed and executed then the will might be valid and probable. If you have questions as to whether a self-written will is valid in New York you should contact a New York estate attorney.  If you don’t have a valid will then your estate may be distributed intestacy and your things may not end up being distributed to the people you intended.

If you wish to speak to a New York estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.