If you’re like most people, you want to ensure your loved ones — including your children — are provided for financially when you die. But, how can you plan for your children who are not biologically yours? What about children who are born or adopted after the date you signed your Will or Trust? The good news is that legally adopted children have the same rights under the law as biological children. And, in most states, “afterborn” children — those who are not specifically named in your Will or Trust because they were born or adopted after its completion date, are also protected. Still, there are some steps you should take with your estate planning documents to ensure your wishes will be honored for those you care about most.
If you’ve adopted a child through an open adoption, consider protecting assets for your child by creating a Trust designed to ensure your child and his or her heirs are the actual beneficiaries of your legacy, so your child’s birth family doesn’t have a say in how your child’s inheritance is managed or distributed. In open adoption situations, the guardianship provisions of your Will may also need some special attention too, so you can be confident your child will be able to continue to maintain relationships with his or her birth family.
With respect to afterborn children, you don’t need to wait to make sure your family is complete before you finalize your estate planning documents. In fact, because we never know what the future holds, taking that approach means you could die without a plan in place at all. By including language in your Will or Trust specifically defining “children” as including those who are part of your family at the time the document is signed as well as biological children born and non-biological children legally adopted later, you won’t need to worry about what your state’s law says regarding afterborn children.
As always, we would like to encourage you to update your estate planning documents any time a life-changing event occurs such as the birth of a child, marriage or divorce.
If you’re ready to complete or update your estate planning documents, the Estate Planning & Legacy Law Center can help. Contact us today to get started!