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Estates of Donnelly

Supreme Court of Washington
81 Wash.2d 430, 502 P.2d 1163 (1972)


John and Lily Donnelly had a daughter, Kathleen, and a son. The son died, leaving an infant daughter, Jean. Jean’s mother remarried, and Jean’s step-father adopted Jean. Lily then died, leaving everything to John. When John died, his will left everything to Lily, and did not clarify what should happen to his estate if Lily had predeceased him. Kathleen (plaintiff) petitioned the court to determine John’s heirs, arguing that she should be considered John’s sole heir, and that Jean (defendant) should not be considered John’s heir. RCW 11.04.085 states that an adopted child is not an heir of his or her biological parents, but the law is silent as to whether an adopted child is an heir of his or her biological grandparents. RCW 26.32.140 states that biological parents have no legal rights or obligations with respect to a child who has been adopted, and that an adopted child is the heir of his or her adoptive parents. Under RCW 26.32.080 and RCW 26.32.150, adoptions in Washington are by default closed and the records sealed. The trial court held that Jean was an heir of her biological grandparents Lily and John, and the court of appeals affirmed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Neill, J.)

Dissent (Hale, J.)

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