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Hall v. Vallandingham

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
540 A.2d 1162 (1988)


Hall v. Vallandingham

Facts

Earl J. Vallandingham died in 1956, survived by his widow and the couple's four children. Two years after Earl died, his widow married Jim Walter Killgore, and Killgore adopted Earl's children. Earl's brother, William Vallandingham, Jr., died intestate in 1983. William's only heirs were his surviving brothers and sisters, as well as the children of his brothers and sisters who had predeceased him. After William's death, Earl's four children (plaintiffs) brought an action against Joseph W. Vallandingham (defendant), who was William's twin brother and the personal representative for William's estate. Earl’s children claimed they were entitled to what would have been Earl's distributive share of William's intestate estate because their father had predeceased their uncle. Upon transmittal from the Orphan’s Court, the Circuit Court for St. Mary’s County decided that Earl’s children could not inherit from William, their natural uncle, because they had been adopted by Killgore. Earl’s children appealed to the Court of Special Appeals, contending that the law governing inheritance rights of natural children implicitly entitles adopted children to inherit from their natural relatives as well as from their adoptive parents.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gilbert, C.J.)

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