Is an adopted child considered the child of a deceased person when that individual dies without a will (intestate) under Tennessee law?

Posted on May 10 2013 6:31AM by Attorney, Jason A. Lee

T.C.A. § 31-2-105 discusses an adopted child’s legal status under Tennessee law when their adopted parent dies without a will (intestate).  Specifically, subsection (a) provides as follows:


(a) If, for purposes of intestate succession, a relationship of parent and child must be established to determine succession by, through, or from a person:

(1) An adopted person is the child of an adopting parent and not of the natural parents except that adoption of a child by the spouse of a natural parent has no effect on the relationship between the child and that natural parent;


As a result, under Tennessee law an adopted child is considered to be the child of an adopting parent, not the natural parent.  One exception is when the child is adopted by a spouse of a natural parent, then the child is still considered to be the child of that specific natural parent (not the other natural parent).


Additionally, under T.C.A. § 31-1-101(6) an adopted child is considered to be "issue" from the deceased just like a natural born child.  This is the statute that defines the term “issue” which is used throughout the intestate succession statutes and it states as follows:


(6) ”Issue” of a person means all the person's lineal descendants, adopted as well as natural born, of all generations, with the relationship of parent and child at each generation being determined by the definitions of child and parent contained in this title;


The definition of “child” under the statute also identifies an adopted child as having an equal status under Tennessee law as follows:


(1) ”Child” includes any individual, adopted or natural born, entitled to take as a child under this title by intestate succession from the parent whose relationship is involved and excludes any person who is only a stepchild, a foster child, a grandchild or any more remote descendant;


As a result, there is effectively no difference, for purposes of intestate succession, between an adopted child and a natural born child in Tennessee.


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TAGS: Intestate Succession, Adopted Children
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Jason A. Lee is a Member of Burrow Lee, PLLC. Contact Jason at 615-540-1004 or jlee@burrowlee.com for an initial consultation on wills estate planning and probate issues.

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Tennessee Wills and Estates Blog
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