I received a phone call recently from a woman whose adoptive father was dying. She was worried, but not about what you’d expect.
You see, her father had inherited a piece of family land from her grandmother that her grandmother always said would one day be passed down to her. Unfortunately, her relationship with her father had soured, and they had not spoken for years.
She knew her father had a Will and had disinherited her, but she was hopeful. A friend told her that parents could not disinherit adopted children in Texas. “Is my friend right?” she asked.
Her friend was wrong.
Section 40 of the Texas Probate Code specifies that for purposes of inheritance under the laws of descent and distribution, an adopted child is regarded as a child of the adoptive parents and can inherit from his or her adoptive parents and their relatives just any biological child. However, the statute also provides:
“Nothing herein shall prevent an parent by adoption from disposing of his property by Will according to law.”
So if an adoptive parent dies without a Will, his adopted child is entitled to inherit under the Texas intestacy laws just as a biological child. However, there is no law that restricts a parent from disposing of his property by Will in any way he chooses.
Just as a biological child can be disinherited, so can an adopted child.