Monday, November 11, 2013

Hall v. Vallandingham case brief

Hall v. Vallandingham case brief summary
540 A.2d 1162 (1988)

Appellant adult children challenged a decision of the Circuit Court for St. Mary's County (Maryland), which upon transmittal of the action from an orphan's court, determined that the children, because of their adoption by their adoptive father, were not entitled to inherit from appellee natural uncle's estate.


Twenty-five years after the adoption of the children by their widowed mother's new husband, the uncle, who was the children's natural father's brother, died childless, unmarried, and intestate. His sole heirs were his surviving brothers and sisters and the children of brothers and sisters who predeceased him. The children alleged that they were entitled to their distributive share of the uncle's estate. The orphan's court transmitted the issue to the circuit court, which found that the children were not entitled to inherit, because of their adoption.


  • On appeal, the court affirmed, concluding that the legislature's elimination of dual inheritance and emphasis in Md. Code Ann., Est. & Trusts § 1-207(a) and Md. Code Ann.,Fam. Law § 5-308, on clean-cut severance from the natural bloodline, meant that once the children were adopted, there was a "rebirth" into a completely different relationship and the rights of the natural relatives terminated. 
  • The court held that because Md. Code Ann., Est. & Trusts § 1-207(a) eliminated the children's right to inherit from the natural parent, it concomitantly abrogated their right to inherit through the natural parent by way of representation.

The court affirmed the circuit court's decision denying the adult children entitlement to inherit from the natural uncle's estate after their adoption by their widowed mother's new husband.

Suggested Study Aids For Wills, Trusts & Estate Law

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