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ESTATE FRANK S. KAUFFMAN (03/20/86)

decided: March 20, 1986.

IN RE ESTATE OF FRANK S. KAUFFMAN, DECEASED. APPEAL OF CHARLYNN JEANNE TORRENCE


Appeal from the Order entered May 23, 1983, in the Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County, Orphans' Court Division, No. 3420 of 1951.

COUNSEL

Henry C. Herchenroether, Jr., Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Beck, Johnson and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Johnson

[ 352 Pa. Super. Page 2]

This case presents the question of whether a person, who was adopted while an adult, qualifies as a "child" of the adopting parent, when construing the will of a testator who is not the adopting parent.

The appellant in this case was 35 years old when she was adopted by Ruth S. Kauffman Torrence [Ruth]. There is nothing in the record indicating that a parent-child relationship existed between Ruth and the appellant either during her minority or majority. Ruth received income for life from a trust established by the will of her father, Frank S. Kauffman. Upon Ruth's death, the remainder was to go to her children. If she left no children, then it was to be divided among other specified legatees. The Orphans' Court en banc affirmed the Decree of the auditing judge who held that appellant was not entitled to share in the estate of Frank S. Kauffman. The auditing judge found that, because appellant was adopted as an adult and during her minority had no parent-child relationship with Ruth, appellant was not considered to be the child of Ruth for the purpose of construing Frank S. Kauffman's will.

Appellant argues that she qualifies as Ruth's "child" for the purposes of construing the will and should receive the trust remainder. We disagree, and therefore affirm.

In determining the question presented in this case, we look first for any controlling statutory language. Ruth's father, the testator, died in 1951. The law in effect at the date of death governs the construction of the testator's will.

[ 352 Pa. Super. Page 3]

    as to the inclusion of adult adoptees in the definition of "children". Neither the language of the will,*fn1 the scheme

[ 352 Pa. Super. Page 5]

    of distribution, nor the relevant facts and circumstances help us to ascertain the intent of the testator. Accordingly, we resort to canons of construction to supply the testator's likely intent. Id.

In Tafel Estate, 449 Pa. 442, 296 A.2d 797 (1972), our supreme court addressed the question of an adoptee's rights of inheritance. A plurality of the court ...


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