Will drafting—adoption, legitimation and illegitimacy
Will drafting—adoption, legitimation and illegitimacy

The following Wills & Probate guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Will drafting—adoption, legitimation and illegitimacy
  • Adoption
  • Legitimation
  • Illegitimacy

It is always important to be aware of the effect of a gift to children in respect of the use of the term children. At common law references to children were presumed to be references to legitimate children only and, by definition, this excluded both illegitimate and adopted children. Legitimated children were also not included in the term. Matters have now progressed to the extent that the practitioner now needs to ask the question as to which class of children, if any, should be excluded from the term children in the Will, rather than which should be included.


’Adoption’ means a state of affairs authorised by an order under the current adoption legislation, at least so far as the UK is concerned. The law also recognises similar orders from outside the jurisdiction. This legislation will apply to any testamentary disposition unless a contrary intention is expressed.

The rule of an adoption order is that the adopted child is treated for all purposes in law as if he had been born to the adopters and has no other legal parents. That child will be treated, again for all purposes, as if they were the legitimate child of the adopters and is not then treated as a child of any other person. It is therefore essential that a testator is