Massachusetts Agencies

Adopted Children


For two cases concerning the rights of adopted children see New England Merchants National Bank v. Groswold, 387 Mass. 822, 444 N.E.2d 359 (1983) and Elefante v. Newhall, 44 Mass.App.Ct. 299, —N.E.2d— (1998).

In New England Merchants National Bank Annie Knapp died in 1942. In her will she left property to named relatives and upon their decease the title was to pass to those relatives' "issue." When the time for final distribution the issue under consideration to receive the gift constituted one biological child and an adopted child of one of the named relatives. The court said that all the property had to be distributed to the biological child. The court noted that from 1876 until 1958 that the terms "issue" or "child" in a will or trust would be deemed to include an adopted child of the testator or settlor, but the term would not be expanded to include an adopted child of someone other than the testator or settlor.

In Elefante the testator's will was executed in 1968, and so the pre-1958 law did not apply and the word "issue" was deemed to include an adopted child.

These cases include an in-depth discussion of the history of the law concerning adopted children.