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Estate of Brittin

Illinois Court of Appeals
664 N.E.2d 687 (1996)


Facts

The decedent, Stephen Brittin, adopted his step-son, William, after William’s mother died. William was 46 years old at the time of the adoption and had five children. Section 3 of Illinois’ Adoption Act provides that an adult may be adopted under certain circumstances. William predeceased Stephen. Stephen later died intestate, and was survived by his biological daughter, Mary (plaintiff) and William’s children (defendants). Section 2-4(a) of the Illinois probate act states that an adopted child is a descendent of the adopting parent for inheritance purposes. The court administering the estate initially held that Mary was Stephen’s sole heir. William’s children petitioned the trial court to reopen the estate and determine heirship, arguing that they were Stephen’s heirs because they were the children of Stephen’s adopted son. The trial court found William’s children to be Stephen’s heirs and reopened the estate. Mary appealed, arguing that in order for an adopted person to inherit from the adopting parent, the adopted child must have been adopted as a minor, and that an adopted adult’s descendants who were born prior to the adoption are not entitled to take by intestate succession.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Goldenhersh, J.)

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