Law School Case Brief
Estate of Dye - 92 Cal. App. 4th 966, 112 Cal. Rptr. 2d 362 (2001)
Because it is based on statutes displacing the common law, adoption does not deprive an adoptee of his right to inherit from his relatives by blood, unless the statute provides otherwise.
Under Cal. Prob. Code § 6451(a), an adoption severs the blood relationship unless both of the following requirements are satisfied: (1) the natural parent and the adopted person lived together at any time as parent and child; and (2) the adoption was by the spouse of either of the natural parents.
Appellant, decedent's adopted son, petitioned to probate decedent's estate. Respondent objectors, one of decedent's adopted away natural sons and some issue of a deceased adopted away son, sought to share in decedent's estate. The court granted the objectors' heirship petition and appellant sought review.
Did adoption deprive the objectors of their rights to inherit from their relatives by blood?
The court affirmed the ruling of the district court and held that under Cal. Prob. Code § 6451(a), the objectors were entitled to inherit part of the estate. Under § 6451(a), an adoption severed the blood relationship of an adopted child and his or her parent unless both of the following requirements are satisfied: (1) The natural parent and the adopted person lived together at any time as parent and child, and (2) The adoption was by the spouse of either of the natural parents. The decedent lived with his sons, who were later adopted by their stepfather, who had married their mother, the decedent's ex-wife. The decedent was presumed to have understood the possibility that all of his natural children would share in his estate. The trial court properly refused to consider extrinsic evidence about the decedent's intentions.
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