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Does Ohio Recognize "Virtual Adoption"?

in Estate, Trust & Probate, News

In a three part series for the Estate Planner newsletter, Weston Hurd partner, Angela Carlin, poses the question Does Ohio Recognize “Virtual Adoption”? 

In Sanders v. Riley, No. S14A1314, decided March 16, 2015, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the equitable doctrine of virtual adoption when it reversed a trial court’s judgment in favor of Curtis Riley, who contended that his half-sister, Shalanda Sanders, had failed to prove an inheritance claim from their father, Clifford Riley, under the equitable doctrine of “virtual adoption.”

This is another case where disputes among family members may be avoided by an individual, here father Clifford Riley, if he had the basic estate planning documents: a Will, a Trust, if proper, a Durable Power of Attorney, a Health Care Power of Attorney, and a Living Will.  Unfortunately, Clifford died without a Will or a Trust identifying his beneficiaries. This case also illustrates that once a child, Shalanda, has been “virtually adopted” by her adopting father, Clifford, a later relationship between the child and the child’s natural or biological father does not sever the previous virtual adoption by another person.

Read more about “Virtual Adoption”: 2015 – Does Ohio Recognize Virtual Adoption – Parts 1-3