In re Estates of Donnelly

In In re Estates of Donnelly, 81 Wn.2d 430, 502 P.2d 1163 (1972), the Court examined the intersection of Washington's probate law and Washington's adoption law in deciding whether an adopted child could inherit from her biological grandfather. The Court of Appeals had held the child could inherit. The Court of Appeals had invoked the doctrine of consanguinity, finding the biological bloodline controlled regardless of adoption. Donnelly, 81 Wn.2d at 436. Because the adoption statute failed explicitly to terminate such an inheritance right, the court reasoned it had to assume consanguinity controlled. The Court rejected this approach on appeal. Instead, we looked to both the adoption and probate statutes and concluded the concept of consanguinity yielded to the more significant legislative objective of giving the adopted child a "fresh start" by severing all ties with a biological parent who relinquishes his or her parental rights. Donnelly, 81 Wn.2d at 436-38. The Court concluded because the adopted child was not entitled to inherit from her biological father, she could not represent him and take from her biological grandparents. Donnelly, 81 Wn.2d at 439. While not specifically addressed in Donnelly, this approach also extinguishes the biological parent's right to inherit from his or her biological child who has been adopted.