By:  Krystian R. Seebert

In late April, the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed a decision to allow a man’s adoptive children to receive a share of his estate, even though his will left his entire estate to his brother.

In Johnson v. Johnson (2023 IL App (4th) 220488), the decedent created a will that left his entire estate to his brother in 2001. At the time the decedent signed his will, he was a single man.

In 2004, the decedent married, but did not update his estate plan. In 2012, the decedent adopted his wife’s then-adult children.

When the decedent died in 2020, the 2001 will was still in effect. However, even though he did not provide for his adoptive children in the will, the Illinois Appellate Court held that they were entitled to a share of his estate because the decedent’s will did not expressly disinherit them.

Johnson v. Johnson is a cautionary tale and an important reminder that estate plans should be reviewed whenever someone faces an important life change, such as:

  • Marriage or divorce
  • The birth or adoption of a new child or grandchild
  • A change in financial situation
  • Death of a loved one
  • A move to a new state or country

So, the lesson from this case is do not wait until it is too late, or else you may find yourself leaving money to people you thought you disinherited!