Wills, Trusts, and Estates

Davis v. Neilson

Court of Appeals of Missouri, 1993

Facts:

Neilson adopted six adults as his children—his secretary and her son, his nephew, and three of his friends. Neilson's grandmother, Giffey, executed a will directing her estate to go to Neilson's issue per stirpes. The trustee refused to distribute to the adopted children, believing the adoptions to be shams.

Procedural History:

Trial court issued a summary judgment ordering that the trust funds be distributed to both the decedent's adopted and natural children.

Issue:

Do adopted adults take in class gifts to children?

Judgment:

Reversed and remanded.

Reasoning:

Some states presume all adult adoptees to be included, some presume them to be excluded, but Missouri will look at the particular circumstances. Here, it is common sense that Giffey did not intend to include adults that her grandson adopted over her actual great-grandchildren.

Rule/Holding:

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[O]nly individuals with familial ties to the adopting parent should be presumed to be included in the gift class