Adoption is a wonderful thing for both the parents and their new family member. When it comes to estate planning, an adopted child is generally treated the same as a biological child. However, if you created your estate plan prior to the adoption, you likely need to update the plan to reflect your new circumstances. For example, your trust may not have included provisions that address children that are born or adopted after the date that the trust was signed. Fortunately, a simple amendment to your estate plan can ensure that all of your wishes are addressed.
Modifying an Estate Plan After an Adoption
Wondering what types of modifications might be necessary if you adopt a child after creating an estate plan? The following are six common examples:
- If the adopted child is a minor, ensure that you appoint a guardian in your will.
- If you do not want the adopted child to receive assets outright when he is 18, consider including a trust that delays distributions until a later date.
- If the adoption has not been finalized, modify the plan to ensure that assets are set to pass to the adoptee. Otherwise, he or she may not have any rights to your estate if you pass away.
- If your adopted child has special needs, consider incorporating a special needs trust into your existing estate plan. This type of trust will allow you to set aside money for your child’s care without jeopardizing his or her right to receive government benefits.
- If you have both biological and adopted children, update your estate plan to divide your assets between them as you see fit. You may opt to treat all children equally, or, you may decide to make different choices. For example, if your adopted child is significantly younger than your biological child, you may decide that the younger, adopted child needs more financial assistance than the older child.
- If you want to outline certain goals for your adopted child’s upbringing, update your estate plan accordingly. For example, you may wish to include provisions in your trust to allow the child to remain in the family home, or to provide for their child if he or she wants to go to art school.
Regardless of whether you think the above scenarios apply specifically to your situation, it is a good idea to have your estate plan reviewed by an attorney after you begin the process of adopting a child. Your lawyer can help you identify areas of your plan that should be modified to accommodate your growing family.
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