If you are thinking about planning your estate and have a non-traditional family in The Bahamas, you may be curious about the laws concerning whether adopted children and stepchildren can inherit. Estate planning is very important for many people because not doing any planning can lead to unexpected consequences in how estates are distributed.
Do Adopted Children Inherit in The Bahamas?
As long as a child has been officially and legally adopted, then he or she will inherit from the adoptive parents just as if he or she was a natural child of those parents. “Adopted” means that a court has entered an adoption order declaring that the parents have adopted the child.
Sometimes people take in relatives' children or the children of friends to help out, never formalizing the adoption. Others foster children officially or unofficially. In these situations, if the parents die without making wills that leave money or property to the children, the children will not inherit anything. As a result, you should consider formalizing an adoption, making a will, or both.
Do Stepchildren Inherit in The Bahamas?
Like children who have not been formally adopted, stepchildren will not inherit from a parent unless the parent makes a will leaving assets to them or formally adopts them. The law provides that people who die without making wills pass their property on to their spouse, children, or other relatives. Stepchildren – the children of a spouse from another marriage – are not included in this list of relatives.
Often, people who have stepchildren want to provide for them just in case the worst happens. If either the stepparent or the parent passes away, the stepchildren could have difficulties. To protect stepchildren that you have not formally adopted, you and your spouse need to make an estate plan. This plan should include wills that specify who will receive your property and in what proportions.
Making an estate plan gives you peace of mind that not only your children and adopted children, but also your foster children or stepchildren will be taken care of if you die. Do not rely on the law to distribute money for their care, as they may not be protected by the inheritance laws. Instead, speak to a lawyer about estate planning as soon as possible.
To find out more about estate planning in The Bahamas, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.