Clause 66 - Rules of interpretation for instruments concerning property

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:45 am ar 6 Rhagfyr 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Parliamentary Secretary (Lord Chancellor's Department) 9:45, 6 Rhagfyr 2001

I should set out a little of the background to the clause. As the hon. Gentleman said, it sets out the rules of interpretation for any instrument concerning the disposition of property. It puts in place a clear system that endeavours to put the adopted child and any natural children in the adoptive family on as equal a footing as possible in respect of inheritance issues.

The hon. Gentleman asked what would happen if two or more children had been adopted. Where a disposition depends on the date of birth of a child of an adoptive parent, an adopted person is to be treated as having been born on the date on which the adoption order was made. Where two or more children are adopted on the same date, they will be treated as if they were both born on that date, but in the order of their births. That general principle does not prejudice an interest vested in possession in the adopted child before the adoption or any interest that is expectant on such an interest.

The clause assists in the disposition of property where no express position has been made in any legal instrument or will. It is, however, open to any person who leaves property to make their own provision as to how an adopted child should be dealt with. For example, if the adoptive parents die intestate, the adopted child will be able to benefit in the same way as any natural children.

The hon. Member for North-West Norfolk spoke of there being two or more children. Where there is a question about who is the eldest, the adopted child will be treated under the clause as having been born on the date of the adoption. A family might have two natural children aged five and three and an adopted child aged seven. For the purpose of any will that specifies that property should go to the eldest child, the five-year-old natural child would inherit the property.