Adoption of Adult Partner

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Both The Family Law Prof Blog and The Indiana Law Blog have posts about adult adoptions of a partner who becomes an heir. From The Family Law Prof Blog:

"On an island liberally sprinkled with the affluent and well-connected members of such clans as Bush, du Pont, Rockefeller and Cabot, the Watson family occupies a special place. The family, descendants of Thomas J. Watson Sr., the founder of I.B.M., owns more than 300 acres worth nearly $20 million on the northern tip of this sea-splashed idyll 90 miles northeast of Portland. Over four decades, various Watsons summering here have flown helicopters and other aircraft; driven antique cars and collected scrimshaw. The family has held an annual square dance at their compound, Oak Hill.

Recently, though, the Watson name has surfaced in a different context, a most unusual lawsuit. It concerns Olive F. Watson, 59, granddaughter of the I.B.M. founder and daughter of Thomas J. Watson Jr., the company’s longtime chief executive; and Patricia Ann Spado, 59, her former lesbian partner of 14 years.

In 1991, Ms. Watson, then 43, adopted Ms. Spado, then 44, under a Maine law that allows one adult to adopt another. The reason, Ms. Spado has contended in court documents, was to allow Ms. Spado to qualify as an heir to Ms. Watson’s estate. But less than a year after the adoption, Ms. Watson and Ms. Spado broke up. Then in 2004, Ms. Watson’s mother died, leaving multimillion-dollar trusts established by her husband to be divided among their 18 grandchildren.

Re-enter Ms. Spado with a claim: Because she was adopted by Olive F. Watson, she said, she is technically Thomas J. Watson Jr.’s 19th grandchild and is therefore eligible for a share of the trusts."

Marcia Oddi reports the story and gives the Indiana law at her post titled Adult adoption put to test in case where IBM founder's granddaughter adopted her lesbian companion, then couple split:

What is the law in Indiana? IC 31-19-2, re filing the petition for adoption, provides at section 1 that "An individual who is at least eighteen (18) years of age may be adopted by a resident of Indiana," but "If the court in which a petition for adoption is filed under this section considers it necessary, the court may order: (1) the type of investigation that is conducted in an adoption of a child who is less than eighteen (18) years of age; or (2) any other inquiry that the court considers advisable; before granting the petition for adoption."


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