Monday, August 22, 2011

Tonight's episode of "The Closer" has faulty legal premise

If you DVR'ed The Closer tonight, this is a spoiler alert. You do not want to read this post until you've watched it.

I hate when tv shows depend upon an absolutely incorrect legal premise. That's what happened on tonight's Closer. The murderer is motivated to have the victim killed because the victim shows up and says she is the biological half-sister of the murderer who was adopted as an infant. The murderer has her killed so she cannot claim a share of her biological father's estate.

But the adoption severed her legal relationship with her birth parents, so she does not stand to inherit as a child. Now if the murderer thought this but the police managed to say among themselves that the murderer was mistaken and need not have killed the victim, that would be fine with me. The problem is that the police talk about the possible inheritance as though it was a real motive -- something that would cost the murderer millions of dollars.

It did used to be true that adoption did not change inheritance laws, and the adoptee could not inherit from adoptive parents and continued to be able to inherit through biological parents. It took decades for the law to treat adopted children as the full legal children of their adoptive parents.

But it's been settled for a long time now, and suggesting otherwise on a popular tv show spreads misinformation. All the folks in Hollywood needed to do was talk to a lawyer who deals with estates or families. It's too bad they didn't.

2 comments:

iREADray said...

Thanks for writing about this. It's interesting and clears up some legal questions that could come with adoption cases.

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