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Adopting Charity at Any Age

Posted October 2015

A man and his wife, well into their seventies, recently described their estate plans like this: “We have four children, and we are adopting a fifth child. We will divide our estate into five equal parts—20 percent to each of our natural children and 20 percent to our adopted child. We are calling this child ‘Charity.’ Actually, she has multiple personalities—and each of them reflects one of our interests: education, health care, at-risk children, and religion.”

The couple was asked, “How do your natural children feel about sharing their inheritance with this interloper?”

They replied, “We don’t regard her as an interloper at all; we have long cherished her. We have devoted a lot of our time nurturing her, and she embodies who we are. It is our hope that our natural children will embrace her and in so doing adopt our values about community service. In fact, we have had conversations with them in which we encourage them to get to know this child and make her part of their lives.”

This couple has chosen to treat the adopted child and their natural children equally, but this need not have been the case. If they had been immensely wealthy, they might have given their adopted child 50 percent of their entire estate. On the other hand, if they had only modest wealth or if some of the natural children were struggling financially, they might have given their adopted child only 5 or 10 percent of their estate. More important to them than the amount of money going to the adopted child is the message they are sending to their other children about service.

They could also be quite flexible about the type of assets they give this child. She would be perfectly content to receive taxable assets like retirement funds or property with capital gain, for unlike her siblings she is tax-exempt.

If you would like to adopt such a child, we can show you advantageous ways of providing for her that could benefit your entire family.

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