PR 01410.020 Kentucky
A. PR 03-075 Request for Legal Opinion Number Holder - Robert D~, SSN ~
DATE: January 9, 2003
Under Kentucky law, an adopted child cannot inherit from the natural parent unless the natural parent is the spouse of the adoptive parent.
NOTE: A child adopted away from the NH during the NH's lifetime who does not retain inheritance rights may qualify if he meets the requirements of section 216(h)(3) and was living with or receiving contributions from the NH at the applicable time.
You have requested our opinion as to whether an adult child is eligible for disabled adult child benefits on the account of Robert D~, number holder (NH), her natural father.
The child is receiving disabled adult child benefits on her natural mother's account. Her mother stated that the child was adopted by a family member who was in the military so the child could receive medical benefits. The Kentucky birth certificate apparently lists that person as the father of the child. The mother submitted a hospital birth certificate showing NH as the father. The mother has not submitted the adoption papers but did submit a bill from the adoption attorney.
Under Kentucky law, upon entry of a judgment of adoption, a child is deemed the child of the petitioners and shall be considered for purposes of inheritance and succession, and for all other legal considerations, the natural child of the adopting parents. All legal relationship between the adopted child had the biological parents shall be terminated except the relationship of a biological parent who is the spouse of an adoptive parent. KRS §199.250(2) (2002). The adoption of a child ends all connections with the natural parent. See Jouett v. Rhorer, 339 S.W.2d 865, 867 (Ky. 1960). An adopted person cannot inherit from a blood relative. See Thornberry v. Timmons, 406 S.W.2d 151 (Ky. 1966). Ordinarily, consent of the birth parents is required for adoption, unless parental rights have not been established or have been terminated. KRS §199.500 (2002). However, after the expiration of one year from the date of entry of judgment of adoption, the validity of the adoption is not subject to attack in any action, collateral or direct, by reason of failure to comply with the adoption laws. KRS §199.540 (2002). Accordingly, even if NH's rights were not properly terminated or his consent was not properly obtained, the judgment would be final a year after it was entered.
If adoption papers were submitted that show the child was adopted, and the validity of the judgment was not subject to attack, she would not be eligible for benefits on NH's account.
Very truly yours,
Mary A. S~
Regional Chief Counsel, Region IV
Laurie G. R~
Assistant Regional Counsel