Estate Planning and Adopting the Child of a Relative
Estate Planning is Necessary When Adopting the Child of a Relative in Texas
If a relative has a child and they cannot perform their parental duties and there is no other parent, a relative is often the next best choice in adopting the child of a relative, and in this article, we focus on estate planning. Because Texas laws regarding wills, trusts, and estates follow state laws regarding parental rights, it is necessary to establish the adoptive rights of a relative no longer in the care of the natural parents. When the adoption takes place it is important to take action on proper estate planning to protect the best interests of the child.
The relative adopting the child of another family member can include that adopted child along with any natural-born children, in their wills, estate plans, and power of attorney and healthcare directives and documents.
Estate Planning Attorney Leslie Barrows works with families in the adoption and estate planning processes to protect families in Southlake and all over DFW.
Find more articles in the adoption section of the Barrows Firm blog!
Estate Planning Tools for Relative Adoptions
The goal of estate planning is to pass along assets, money, and property to family members directly without being directed through the formal court processes and procedures, being taxed along the way. One way to pass along ownership to another is to own things jointly, which often requires a legal document to establish. It is common to add people as named owners on joint bank accounts, for example, and when one passes, the other assumes full ownership without any additional operation of law.
Tools for planning to pass along wealth include trusts and wills. Put money aside in a trust for the benefit of children’s education, including newly adopted relative children. Assign a trustee who can make good decisions and protect everyone from making short-sighted decisions with money.
Estate planning tools for relative adoptions also include important healthcare and business directives and powers of attorney so that one family member can make decisions on behalf of another if the original is temporarily incapacitated or unavailable, such as in the case of surgery requiring anesthesia. Additionally, titling and registering vehicles when children are away at school is another example of when a power of attorney is useful.
Adopting Children and Welcoming Them Among Family
Building strong and loving families is a challenge. Parents and children experience new additions to families in their ways. Young kids sometimes get jealous when mom has another baby and the attention focus shifts. As children learn new roles and carve out their independence and individualism, everyone grows together, yes the family grows as a collective sum of its members.
Learn more about placing children for adoption, and adopting at the Fort Worth Gladney Center for Adoption
Therefore, adding the next child who may be an adopted child, should be no different than the new baby scenario. However, things are unique when the new baby isn’t a baby and is already part of the family as a relative. Can it all be somewhat confusing? Yes. At the end of the day does everyone love each other and is that the most important thing? Yes again.
Wills and Trusts Serving the Needs and Desires of Families
Providing money and security for the future and the best interests of family members is the objective of will and trust plans for growing families. The needs and desires of people change over time as circumstances also change, some of which are out of our control. While we may desire to safeguard money to provide for college education, a child’s life path might be different, and they could have different needs that do not include higher education expenses. Therefore, it becomes important to set up wills and trusts to serve the needs and desires of families with flexibility and proper judgment, and guidance.
The best interests of adopted relative children are furthered by naming them as takers in a will that must be updated to include a newly adopted child that is not otherwise assumed to be an heir. Always make sure every estate planning document is reviewed to determine if it needs to be amended to include any later-born or adopted children.
Including Adopted Special Needs Children in Estate Planning
In certain circumstances, parents do not maintain parental rights of special needs children and relatives end up adopting the child with special needs. Estate plans can include a special needs trust that covers the direction and control of money provided for the care of special needs trustees. When caretakers are adopted relatives, they can operate as special needs trustees over the funds received from public or private funding sources that cover the additional costs and needs families may incur when they have natural and adopted young and adult children with special needs.
Read our related article, Divorce with Adult Special Needs Children
Avoid Conflicts Among Grandparents and Relatives
Grandparents have special relationships with their grandchildren and that should not be disrupted by the process of adoption and estate planning. If the grandparents are on the father’s side and the mother is the one who is no longer going to be the primary parent, and a relative adoption is in place, it is important to consider the other set of grandparents on the birth father’s side.
Finding ways to include and facilitate a family role for everyone is a great challenge to have, especially when there are so many children with fewer family members in their lives. When avoiding conflicts, we can look at ways to include people as decision-makers and providers, without creating a situation where anyone is going to be in direct conflict with one another.
Whether and How to Best Notify Family Members of Estate Plans and Intentions
Every family is different and knows what is expected. Parents in the control and direction of their children, natural born and adopted, should be recognized as primary decision makers with good intentions. Even if we question the intentions of others in our extended families, we should appreciate boundaries and when to hold the line and not cross it.
What to say: 8 Better Ways to Deliver Good News to a Loved One
When parents notify family members of things that happen, they include others, implicitly recognizing their importance as people who receive key information about the family. Sometimes the very mention that, for example, you adjusted your wills, trusts, and power of attorney documents is helpful to signify to other family members that you cared enough to tell them. Sometimes they just want to know they are thought of and included. People all have some level of concern that their other family approves of them, and it is just that easy to let someone know you care.
Talk to Attorney Leslie Barrows about ideas on how to talk to family members and present sensitive information in a way that everyone can appreciate the process and feel good about reducing uncertainty. And it doesn’t mean you have to spill all the tea, just let them know it’s taken care of.