The right of an adopted child to inherit from a biological parent is severed when the final decree of adoption is issued or an interlocutory order of adoption becomes final. There is an exception to this standard. Source: Ohio Revised Code Section 3107.15(A)(1).
The exception to the adoption standard applies when a parent dies and the new spouse of the living parent adopts the child. Source: Ohio Revised Code Section 3107.15(A)(1).
During the administration of an estate in Ohio, it is not always easy for a Probate attorney to determine if the adoption was completed. One method of conformation is to contact the Ohio Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics (“ODH”). This organization has adoption records for individuals born in Ohio and adopted anywhere in the US.
How does your Probate Attorney determine the adoption was completed?
There is a challenge with this process in the Probate administration context. Specifically, the challenge is when the only known biological parent of the children is deceased. The Ohio Department of Health, Office of Vital Statistics only makes its records available to the adopted child, the adopted parents or the child’s lineal descendants.
It may be possible for biological siblings to request the name of an adopted child if that adopted child is over 18 and has already filed a name release consent with the ODH. Additionally, a biological sibling may request non-identifying information from the attorney, adoption agency, or Probate court that handled the adoption under O.R.C. 3107.66.
The statute is unclear whether this would include a confirmation of an adoption decree. For confirmation in a jurisdiction such as Hamilton County, the Probate court would likely need the birth name of the child and would need permission from a magistrate before releasing even non-identifying information.
For an Administrator, Executor, or Trustee, the lack of identifying information makes the administration of such an estate challenging. It is best for a fiduciary to seek counsel from an attorney familiar with the requirements in the local Probate court. Failure to properly distribute assets from the estate could result in personal liability for the fiduciary.
For more information about estate planning, probate, elder law, or trust administration in Cincinnati, Ohio, visit my website. If you have questions regarding this article or any legal matter, feel free to contact Elliott Stapleton at (513) 334-0099