I recently blogged about the about the fact that, generally speaking, an adopted child would have the same rights to take from a trust established in relation to their adoptive parents as would a biological child of their adoptive parents. While this may leave the dream of being adopted into a rich family alive for some, what impact, if any, does an adoption order have upon the adopted child’s rights vis-à-vis their birth parents’ estates? If an adopted child’s birth parent should die without a Will, or leave a bequest in their Will to their “children”, would the adopted child receive a benefit from their estate?
In Ontario, the legal status of adopted children is governed by the Child and Family Services Act (the “CFSA“). Section 158(2) of the CFSA provides that, for the purposes of law, upon an adoption order being granted the adopted child becomes the child of the adoptive parent and ceases to be the child of the person who was his or her parent before the adoption order was granted.
As a result of section 158(2) of the CFSA, and the clear provision that an adopted child ceases to be a “child” of their birth parent in the eyes of the law upon the adoption order being granted, an adopted child would no longer be a “child” of their birth parent in determining entitlement from the birth parent’s estate. The adopted child would no longer receive a benefit on an intestacy of their birth parent in accordance with Part II of the Succession Law Reform Act, nor be included with the class of “children” or “issue” in any bequest in their birth parent’s Will.
While an adopted child would not take as a “child” of their birth parent on an intestacy or in a bequest in their birth parent’s Will, this does not necessarily mean that an adopted child may never receive an entitlement from their birth parent’s estate. Should the birth parent of an adopted child wish to provide a bequest to such a child from their estate, they may specifically provide a bequest to such an adopted child in their Will. In providing such a bequest however, it is important that the adopted child be specifically referenced by name in the Will, as any general gift to the testator’s “children” would not catch the adopted child as a result of section 158(2) of the CFSA.
Thank you for reading.