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Adoption, fostering and a bit complex!

(466 Posts)
zeebrugge Wed 29-Dec-10 18:32:40

I was adopted as a baby in 1971 and lived with my adopted parents until March 1987 when they were both drowned in the Zeebrugge Ferry disaster. I was put in short term foster care and then long term foster care until I timed out on my 18th birthday.

I was allowed to visit my former home, on the day after the funeral, to collect my belongings but never stayed there again. When my aunt and uncle came back from Denver in 1989 they lived there for a while.

Now I can sort of understand why I wasn't in the will, being adopted rather than a birth child. But as somebody told me over Christmas, and why I am writing, surely I was left something. Did I really matter so little.

ilove Wed 29-Dec-10 19:24:39

I would have assumed you inherited automatically as next of kin if you had been formally adopted? Maybe ask at CAB

troylawyer Wed 29-Dec-10 20:09:21

If you were legally adopted and you would need to obtain the court order and adoption certificate to prove this, you are treated in exactly the same way as a birth child for inheritance purposes and thus would inherit as a matter of law under the rules of intestacy if there was no will. If there was a will but you were not included in the will, you have a claim under the Inheritance Act but there are time limits associated with that and I cannot remember what they are off the top of my head. With all due respect to the CAB, I would suggest that you make an urgent appointment with a probate specialist solicitor as this is a specialist area of law.

zeebrugge Wed 29-Dec-10 20:20:07

I was certainly legally adopted as I have all the paperwork somewhere. I don't know about the will. I was only 16 at the time and had lost my Mum and Dad but I don't remember anybody saying anything about one and I certainly never went to a reading like on TV.

I've always assumed until last week that I was entitled to nothing and so got nothing. You make it seem different, like cheating?

troylawyer Wed 29-Dec-10 20:56:36

I don't understand your last comment about cheating. You are legally entitled to a share under the rules of intestacy and should have been included in the distribution of the estate in equal shares with any siblings, adopted or birth as the case may be. You really need to see a solicitor about this as you have as much right to a share of the estate as a birth child, that is the whole point of adoption!

CarGirl Wed 29-Dec-10 21:03:18

Actually on the reading around I have done even if you hadn't been legally adopted as a child financially dependent on them you would have had a claim.

If there was no guardian for you then the local authority should have protected your financial interests.

It does sound like you need to find out whether their was a will or not as your first port of call.

CarGirl Wed 29-Dec-10 21:05:01

Did your extended family treat you as if you were not a "real" daughter because you were adopted?

CarGirl Wed 29-Dec-10 21:06:19

There are six types of people who may contest a will:

• the spouse or civil partner
• a former spouse or civil partner - who has not remarried or formed a new civil partnership
• children
• step-children
• a partner who lived with the deceased for more than two years
• any other dependants

Anyone who was financially dependant on the deceased could theoretically have a claim.

If you are unhappy with the terms of a will, you may need to take legal advice in order to stop the assets of the estate from being distributed. This is called a caveat - it usually lasts for six months, but is renewable - and has been known to lead to disputes being resolved before they reach the court stage.

CarGirl Wed 29-Dec-10 21:08:46
prh47bridge Wed 29-Dec-10 23:44:11

The time limit for an Inheritance Act claim is 6 months from the grant of probate or letters of administration. The court has the power to extend this time limit. As your parents died 23 years ago you are almost certainly well outside the time limit (and presumably far too late to stop the assets being distributed).

You can get a copy of the wills (if there were any) from the Probate Registry for £5 each - you will need to look at both wills to be sure of how the estate should have been distributed. As part of this the Probate Registry will tell you the value of your parents' estate. That will allow you to work out how much you should have got, either from the wills or, if there were none, under the intestacy rules.

zeebrugge Thu 30-Dec-10 11:17:00

This is what I have managed to find out.

I was legally adopted and I have all the papers. They had no other children which is why I think they adopted me.

After they died I went into short term foster care to finish the school year. I can just about remember the social worker and another man coming to the school and the Head Master witnessing my signature on some papers. This might have been about June 1987.

That summer I moved to long term foster care in a different town. I think my aunt and uncle arranged this because my foster Mum knew them from somewhere. In those days foster carers didn't get paid very much and I had to give half of my wages towards my keep. There were 3 of us there and if we misbehaved a thin twig across the back of the leg put us right! I stayed there until I timed out on my 18th birthday.

I have looked through my address book and my aunt and uncle have had several spells of living where I used to live. The last time I was in touch, two Christmases ago they were living there.

I will send off for a copy of the two wills and see what happens. I have also sent a letter to my aunt and uncle.

Resolution Thu 30-Dec-10 13:12:30

prh is spot on. You are far too late to apply out of time under the inheritance act - 12 months is usually too late, let alone 23 years. the only thing you can do is see whether probate was granted and if so whether the estate was administered in accordance with the will. If it wasn't properly administered then you have a personal claim against the estate and the executors.

If no probate was granted then the estate hasn't been administered.

The grant of probate will tell you whether there was a will or whether it was an intestacy.

Good luck.

CarGirl Thu 30-Dec-10 18:39:12

The only thing that makes sense is that it was always your aunt/uncles house and your parents lived in it. Otherwise it appears that you have been shafted financially. I'm not sure I would have forewarned them that you were looking into this.

I am deeply saddened that the people who were supposed to care for you at the local authority did nothing, not even explain to you the financial situation etc angry.

If the house was your parents then at least it still exists for you to claim against confused

zeebrugge Thu 30-Dec-10 20:21:55

I am not expecting a house but somehow I would like to have some more photos of my Mum and Dad. I only have 2 because when I went back to the house for the final time after their funeral I was told by Aunty and the social worker that almost everything I asked about "isn't yours to take".

16 years was condensed down to 1 suitcase and two boxes.

Hassled Thu 30-Dec-10 20:36:36

I applied to see a copy of my father's will and the response was pretty quick - certainly within a couple of weeks - so hopefully you won't have to wait too long. It will all hinge on whether there was a will that specifically excluded you, whether there was a will that named you as a beneficiary or whether there was no will (in which case you as adopted child would be the beneficiary, above aunt/uncle).

It sounds like you've really really been through the mill, but you sound astonishingly together - your parents would be very proud of you indeed.

CarGirl Thu 30-Dec-10 20:37:55

Okay I am really outraged now!

I'm sure in reality it was all yours angry as a dependent child whether you were in the will or not.

Resolution Fri 31-Dec-10 01:57:05

No it isn't car girl. It all depends on the will, if there was one. We still have in law the principle that we can leave our estate to whoever we wish, and any challenges to that have to be made promptly. There is no entitlement beyond the Inheritance (Provision for family and dependants) Act

CarGirl Fri 31-Dec-10 07:31:21

Everything I have read says that as a child she had the right to contest any will if no provision was made for her financially until she was 18 - is that not correct??? If she had contested then she would have received some provision - yes??

It was her social workers duty to exercise that contesting on her behalf.

It wouldn't surprise me if their was a will that was made prior to her adoption. What kind of adult doesn't allow a child a significant amount of personal items such as photos of their parents and childhood when they've just lost them without warning in a tragic accident?

zeebrugge Fri 31-Dec-10 07:55:40

I don't see why I was not allowed to take some wedding photos of my dead parents sad

They must have belonged to somebody so why not me. I suppose when I took the emergency money out of the bathroom cabinet I was being a thief? Well I did anyway. That was all the money I had.

Anyway. I have had a bright idea. The headed notepaper for the solicitor who did the adoption work is in the file. I have looked up the very distinctive name and they seem to be in the same street, just 2 doors away. Perhaps they did the wills as well? Perhaps they have a copy?

I was 16, in a foster home. How was I to know about legal things like wills?

CarGirl Fri 31-Dec-10 07:59:12

Exactly Zeebrugge social services were acting in loco parentis for you and they should have looked into it and contested on your behalf, hence why I am angry.

Do you think your Aunt and Uncle had an issue with you "only" being adopted? I'm assuming that you were getting on okay with your parents at the time and weren't some wild drug taking child in which I could perhaps see in part their cruel logic?

zeebrugge Fri 31-Dec-10 08:09:44

I expect so. I am being silly and crying now and I have jobs to do. I might post a bit later.

CarGirl Fri 31-Dec-10 08:12:27

It is very hurtful for people to undermine your "rights & acknowledgement" as their daughter. They were your parents, they chose you and I'm sure they had dreams of you going to uni & marrying (and paying for it!) and being part of your life forever.

Big hug x

prh47bridge Fri 31-Dec-10 09:29:20

Even if the solicitor who did the adoption has wills for your parents they may not be their final wills. Your best bet for getting the wills is the Probate Registry. That will tell you what was in the wills used by the executors.

zeebrugge Fri 31-Dec-10 10:50:58

I have spoken to the firm on the phone. The man had known my Mum and Dad and had played golf with my Dad many times. Apparently my Dad was a "sound man, sound indeed."

I wrote down what he said "I indeed had the honour to act for your deceased parents in this matter." and later on "While I cannot bring the specifics of the case to mind I will retrieve the files from the archives with due urgency." It made me smile a bit.

I am seeing his on Tuesday morning.

nymphadora Fri 31-Dec-10 11:26:43

Can't add anything useful for you but the SW should have acted on your behalf

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