Grandparents Raising Grandchildren and the Implications for Inheritance

Today in the United States, thousands of grandparents are raising their young grandchildren because the children’s parents are ill, disabled, imprisoned, or otherwise unable to care for them. If the grandparent dies intestate, laws in all fifty states provide that the grandchild’s absent parent inherits all. The grandchild, although raised as a child of the grandparent, inherits nothing. This Article examines existing doctrines, such as equitable adoption and pretermitted child statutes, and policies adopted in other countries, such as family maintenance systems, and their effects on the grandchildren. In the end, this Article concludes that the simplest solution of writing a will to avoid intestacy statutes may be the best.