Question: I was adopted at a young age. I was raised by wonderful adoptive parents. Late in life, I reconnected with my biological mother. All of my parents are elderly and estate planning is being discussed. Can I inherit from my adoptive parents? By contrast, can inherit from my biological mother?

Answer: Rights of an Adopted Child: Thanks to a 1958 Massachusetts law, adopted children inherit equally with naturally born children. This applies whether or not a will is involved.

Rights of a Biological Child (later adopted by other parents): Once adopted by other parents, the biological parents’ rights and obligations of parentage are generally severed. This includes inheritance. (Note: an exception applies for cases where the natural parent has treated the child as his or her own and not refused to support the child).

If your biological mother dies without a will, you are likely not included in her inheritance. Sure, she can choose to include you in her will. This would give you rights. However, I recommend she uses a trust instead, cutting through the probate court’s red tape surrounding your adoption.

Learn more about the difference between wills and trusts.

Attorney James Haroutunian is the founder of Priority Law. The article was originally published in the Lowell Sun and is for informational purposes only and not to be relied on as legal advice, in any manner.