I was adopted at 1 year of age. Over the years I met and stayed close to my biological father and half sister. My biological father just passed away and my half sister is all that's left of the immediate family, now my half sister wants me to handle his estate. He had no will or life insurance. Can I even inherit? I hate sounding money hungry but I went through it with my adopted family where I paid the 10k out of pocket for my stepdads funeral and then got written off with no inheritance or even a thank you. I don't want to go through that again.
I am so sorry for your loss. My immediate reaction was to say no, you can't automatically inherit from your biological dad, assuming your biological father's parental rights were terminated in order for the adoption to go through. (This is the usual case, and it's still true.)
But I looked up the law and found something interesting: as someone who was adopted out of the family, you can still inherit from biological kin other than parents whose rights have been terminated. So, for example, if your half sister dies without a will, and without a surviving spouse, children, or living parents you could make a claim against her estate to take as a sibling. Same with your father's parents if they die without wills and without spouses and living children. The only requirement is that you have a familial relationship with them. Here's the page that has it all. See section 2108 about adopting from biological parents: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/20/00.021..HTM
If you want to administer your dad's estate, take a look at what's there first. You can charge a fee for being personal representative (administrator, which is the term for executor if there's no will). The fee might compensate you ok for taking on the responsibility. There is a chart that you can use to figure out if it's worth it to you: look up the Johnson case on Google, or the Johnson guidelines. They came out of a case opinion written by Judge Wood of Chester County Court. There is a fee schedule on there both for personal representatives and for attorneys, but it's only a suggestion not a requirement to charge based on this schedule. If the fee is too low given the amount of money in the estate, you may be able to justify charging more, commensurate with the amount of work involved. See what you think and what your sister thinks, since according to your question she's going to inherit what's left after the bills are paid.
You should not have to put out your own money for any expenses unless you're sure you'll be reimbursed, and there's nothing to prevent your sister from agreeing to any reasonable charge for your work. Please note that if you're paid a fee to handle the estate it's taxable as regular personal income.
If you're considering doing this, go see a lawyer and get some advice. The legal part of estates (the documents, inheritance tax return, etc.) is a little tricky and I don't recommend doing it yourself. But definitely set up a meeting with an attorney and get some advice based on what's in the estate and what you'll have to be doing.
I have a private practice in Malvern, PA, and I welcome new clients. Contact me privately for further information. My answer to your question is not to be considered legal advice, just general information based on my knowledge and experience, and the fact that I answered your question does not create a lawyer-client relationship between us. That would have to commence more formally. Further information is at my website www.RabinLawOffices.com.
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