Bean v. Ford
Supreme Court of California
82 P.3d 747 (2004)
Terrold Bean was placed in a foster home with Mr. and Mrs. Ford when he was two years old and lived with them throughout his childhood. The Fords did not attempt to adopt Bean. While she was alive, Mrs. Ford told a friend that she and Mr. Ford wanted to adopt Bean but did not think they could, for fear that Bean might be removed and placed in another foster home during the adoption process. After Mrs. Ford’s death, Bean kept a close relationship to Mr. Ford until Mr. Ford’s death. Mr. Ford was survived by a niece and nephew (plaintiffs), who petitioned the court to determine distribution of Mr. Ford’s estate. Bean (defendant) claimed an interest in the estate as an equitably adopted child. Under § 6454 of the probate code, a foster parent or step-parent may be considered a parent if there is a personal relationship with the child that begins when the child is a minor and lasts through the child’s and parent’s joint lifetimes, and if there is a legal barrier that prevents the foster or step-parent from legally adopting the child. Section 6455 of the probate code specifically states that it does not limit the application of the equitable adoption doctrine. The superior court found that Bean could not support an equitable adoption claim because there was no evidence that Ford intended to adopt Bean. The court of appeal affirmed, and Bean appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Werdegar, J.)
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