Intestate succession is a statutorily imposed way of passing property to descendants after death. In Florida, an adopted child is treated exactly the same as if he/she was a natural born child of the adoptive parents (mother and/or father). This means that for the purpose of intestate succession by an adopted person, the adopted person is a descendant of the adopting parent and is one of the natural kindred of all members of the adopting parent’s family. The adopted person is not a descendant of his or her natural parents, nor is he or she one of the kindred of any member of the natural parent’s family.
Adoption of a child by a step-parent, who is married to a natural parent, has no effect on the intestacy rights between the child and the natural parent or the natural parent’s family. This is true even if the child was adopted by the step-parent after the death of the other natural parent. For example, imagine that Tom and Kate are married and have one child Jane. If Kate dies and Tom later remarries and his second wife adopts Jane, Jane would maintain her rights to inherit from Kate’s family under Florida intestacy statutes. As long as Kate’s family lives in Florida Jane will be protected, but if Kate’s family lives in other states, you would need to check how step-parent adoptions are treated in the state where the relative lives.
One final thing worth mentioning regarding adopted children’s intestacy rights is that in certain circumstances an omitted child from a Florida Will can receive a share of the estate equal in value to that which the child would have received if the testator had died intestate. However, an obvious intentional omission or devises of substantially all the estate to the other parent of the omitted child will likely result in no gift for the omitted child. To discuss your circumstances or ask questions about this or other Florida Estate Planning issues contact a Jacksonville Estate Planning Lawyer.