My aunt and uncle never formerly adopted me. Does equitable adoption apply?
I was raised by my aunt and uncle since I was 5. They both passed away, leaving their estate to me. However, I was not adopted by them, so I have an inheritance tax to pay. How do I go about showing they wanted to adopt me and claim equitable adoption?02/09/2017 | Category: Adoption » Equitable | State: Iowa | #31862
Regarding adoption you may be able to establish equitable adoption or adoption by estoppel.
Under the intestacy laws, C would not inherit from W2 as there is no legal status of a parent-child relationship as required to inherit under the intestacy laws. However, over the past 80-some years, the Iowa courts, as well as 26 other states, have considered and adopted a theory called "equitable adoption", sometimes called "adoption by estoppel" or "virtual adoption" or "constructive adoption". Basically, a good summary of the theory stated by the Missouri Court of Appeals in Gardner v. Hancock:
An adoption by estoppel is an equitable remedy to protect the interests of a person who was supposed to have been adopted as a child but whose adoptive parents failed to undertake the legal steps necessary to formally accomplish the adoption; the doctrine is applied in an intestate estate to give effect to the intent of the decedent to adopt and provide for the child.
In other words, the law won't punish a child for the mistake of the "parent" in failing to formally adopt the child through the legal system.