Matter of Simpson (Matter of Chemical Bank) – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Matter of Simpson (Matter of Chemical Bank), 90 Misc 2d 727, 395 N.Y.S.2d 917 [Sup Ct, NY County 1977], the decedent's widow argued that her husband's adopted son, whom decedent adopted as an adult when the adoptee was 30 years old, did not qualify as a "child" referenced within decedent's trust as a potential beneficiary upon his death. (See id. at 732).

She pointed to what would have been the decedent's intent at the time he created the trust, when adult adoptions were not then permitted under applicable law, and when the decedent was a young newlywed unlikely envisioning the adoption of an adult child who would benefit from the trust. (See id.).

The Court held that "what may have been in the donor's mind, and what the state of the law was at the time the trust agreement was executed is, in this instance, not critical." (Id.).

The Court looked to the law as it existed at the time of the adoption, which permitted the adult child to be treated as if he were the biological child of the decedent.