In most cases, an adopted child is treated identical to a natural child when it comes to inheritance. If you die without leaving a Will, your adopted children are entitled to an equal share of your estate, the same as any natural child.
On the other hand, if you give a child up for adoption, that child is no longer considered your natural child and, therefore, is not entitled to any share in your estate.
To summarize, if you are adopted, you are considered a natural child of your adopted parents, and not a child of your biological parents.
If someone leaves a Will instructing their children inherit without specifically naming each child, these adoption rules are enforced. In the event each child is named in the Will, this takes precedence.
Should an adopted child be omitted from a Will written by their adoptive parents, they can contest the Will and receive an equal share if there is reason to believe the child was not intentionally left out.
If you have given a child up for adoption, you can still leave that child an inheritance, but it is necessary to identify him or her specifically in your Will. He or she does not have automatic inheritance rights.
Stepchildren do not have inheritance rights, even if you raised a stepchild from a young age. Children from a previous marriage, especially if you have remarried, have special considerations. You may require a trust for those children to guarantee their inheritance.
Estate planning laws can be very complicated. For this reason, it is recommended you obtain assistance from experienced attorney to develop a solid estate plan protects your loved ones and their inheritance.