Uncommon Connections: Adults Adopting Adults

Most people don't know that it's entirely possible for an adult to actually legally adopt another adult, and fewer still could imagine why anyone would. There are, in fact, several reasons for people to take this action, so read on to learn more about this rare, but legal, procedure.

Reasons that an adult would adopt an adult.

1. Recently discovered biological offspring. If someone, now an adult, suddenly turns up on your doorstep, you may want to recognize and legalize your relationship by legally adopting them.

2. Adult step-children and foster children. Likewise, you can formalize your relationship with these adult children by legally adopting them.

3. Make it easier for someone to inherit after your death. A will provides a handy instrument to address who gets what after your death, but if a will gets contested after you have passed, a legal adoption of a adult who you want to ensure inherits property will help solidify that bequest.

4. Adult children who are incapacitated. Once your disabled child becomes an adult, whether it's your biological child or not, you may want to ensure their continued care by legally adopting them as adults.

Reasons that an adult should not adopt an adult.

1. Sexual relationship. No matter how old the "child" is, the courts view the relationship as a "parent/child" one, so two people having a sexual relationship precludes any legal adoption.

2. Fraudulent activity. If the court suspects that one party is attempting to force another to adopt them for financial gain, it will be a no-go. For example, if one adult has tricked the other into adopting them so that they might inherit after their death. It should be noted that this is another reason not to just divide your estate evenly among your offspring, but to instead name each beneficiary and specify the inheritance.

What else to know.

  • In most cases, the adult you are adopting must be younger than yourself.
  • Both parties must consent, unless the adopted party is incapacitated.
  • In some states, your spouse (if you are married) must also consent to the adoption.
  • Just as with adoptions of minors, the newly adopted adult has the option of using their new "parent's" name as their last name, or keeping their current name.
  • Once the adoption is approved by the courts, the parties will be issued a new birth certificate.
  • You have the option of requesting that the adoption records be sealed.
  • With this adoption, the adopted adult is actually removing the parental status of any other previous parent or biological parent from their lives.

Contact a family law attorney for more information.