Intestate Inheritance Rights for Adopted Children - New Jersey

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Birth Parents in Relation to Adopted Person

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 9:3-50; 2A:22-3

The entry of a judgment of adoption shall:

  • Terminate all parental rights and responsibilities of the parent towards the adoptive child, except for a parent who is the spouse of the petitioner and except those rights that have vested prior to entry of the judgment of adoption
  • Terminate all rights of inheritance under intestacy from or through the birth parent unless that parent is the spouse of the petitioner or that parent or other relative had died prior to the judgment of adoption
  • Terminate all rights of inheritance under intestacy from or through the child that existed prior to the adoption

The right of the adult adopted person, and of such persons as legally represent him or her on his or her death, to take and inherit intestate personal and real property from his or her birth parents and their kindred shall not be altered by the adoption.

In all other respects, all rights, privileges, and obligations due from the birth parents to the adult adopted person and from the adopted person to them and all relations existing between such person and them shall be at an end, including the right of the birth parents and their kindred to take and inherit intestate personal and real property from and through the adopted person.

Adoptive Parents in Relation to Adopted Person

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 9:3-50; 2A:22-3

The entry of a judgment of adoption shall establish the same relationships, rights, and responsibilities between the child and the adopting parent as if the child were born to the adopting parent in lawful wedlock. For purposes of intestacy, an adopted child shall have the same rights of inheritance as if born to the adopting parent in lawful wedlock.

All rights, privileges, and obligations due from the parents by adoption to the adult adopted person and vice versa shall be the same as if the adult adopted person had been born to them in lawful wedlock, including the right to take and inherit intestate personal and real property from and through each other.

If the parents by adoption shall have another child or other children entitled to take and inherit from them on intestacy, such children and the adult adopted person shall, respectively, take and inherit intestate personal and real property from and through each other as if all had been children of the same parents born in lawful wedlock.

Adopted Persons Who Are Not Included in a Will

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 3B:3-48; 3B:5-9; 3B:5-16

Adopted persons and their descendants, if appropriate to the class, are included in class gifts and other terms of relationship in accordance with the rules for intestate succession.

If a testator fails to provide in his or her will for any child who was adopted after the execution of his or her will, the omitted after-adopted child receives a share in the estate as follows:

  • If the testator had no child living when he or she executed the will, an omitted after-adopted child receives a share in the estate equal in value to what the child would have received had the testator died intestate unless the will gave all or substantially all of the estate to the other parent of the omitted child or to a trust primarily for the benefit of that other parent, and that other parent survives the testator and is entitled to inherit under the will.
  • If the testator had one or more children living when he or she executed the will, and the will gave property or an interest in property to one or more of the then-living children, an omitted after-adopted child is entitled to share in the estate as follows:
    • The portion of the estate that the omitted after-adopted child is entitled to share is limited to bequests made to the testator's then-living children under the will.
    • The omitted after-adopted child is entitled to receive the share of the estate that the child would have received had the testator included all omitted after-born and after-adopted children with the children to whom bequests were made under the will and had given an equal share of the estate to each child.

The above does not apply if:

  • It appears from the will that the omission was intentional.
  • The testator provided for the omitted after-adopted child by transfer outside the will with the intent that the transfer be in lieu of a testamentary provision.