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Legal Writing

This Guide assists first-year law students with the CREAC format used in legal writing.

Brief Answer


Yes. Under California state law, equitable adoption is applicable when clear and convincing evidence establishes that the decedent intended to adopt the child, and the decedent acted consistent with that intent by forming a close and enduring familial relationship with the child. Mrs. Sweeney, the decedent, was Mr. Simpson’s custodial guardian.  Mrs. Sweeney expressed intent to adopt Mr. Simpson to her husband, her sister, and to Mr. Simpson himself on numerous occasions. Mrs. Sweeney acted upon that intent when she consulted with an attorney about pursuing adoption and she tried to convince her husband to agree to the adoption before he passed away. Mrs. Sweeney also promised Mr. Simpson to adopt him. Mr. Simpson also shared a close and enduring familial relationship with Mrs. Sweeney because they treated each other like mother and son, and held each other out as such.  Mrs. Sweeney was very involved with Mr. Simpson’s schooling by attending all of his school events, plays, and games.  Although Mr. Simpson never took on the “Sweeney” last name, he traveled with Mrs. Sweeney on family vacations and was included in family photos, which read “From the Sweeneys.” Further, Mrs. Sweeney wore a mother’s ring, which had two stones for her birth daughter Hannah and Mr. Simpson’s birthdays. Mr. Simpson performed his duties as son by caring for Mrs. Sweeney as his mother, and the parent-child relationship never deteriorated. Thus, it is likely that a California court will determine that Mr. Simpson is able to inherit from Mrs. Sweeney as her equitably adopted son. 



  1. The Answer to the Question Presented: the legal writer does not completely answer the question.
  2. Brief Application: the legal writer buries the brief application under too many facts that trigger the rule; the better alternative would have been to save the more in-depth application for the analysis section.



Yes, Alan Simpson will likely inherit from Rebecca Sweeney’s estate because she intended him to and treated him like her son.  To inherit under the California doctrine of equitable adoption, a claimant must prove the following by clear and convincing evidence: 1) the existence of an agreement or intent to adopt and 2) subsequent objective conduct indicating a mutual recognition of a parent-child relationship.

Here, Alan satisfies the intent requirement because Rebecca expressed her desire to adopt Alan to her sister, an attorney, Alan, and her husband on numerous occasions. Alan also satisfies the parent-child relationship requirement because he and Rebecca loved and cared for each other as mother and son. Accordingly, Alan will likely prove each element by clear and convincing evidence and inherit from Rebecca’s estate as her equitably adopted son. 



  1. The Answer to the Question Presented is clear and concise (red sentence)
  2. The Rule Statement clearly and concisely states the elements of the rule (blue sentence)
  3. The Brief Application uses only the most determinative facts, in a because statement, to show how those facts trigger each element of the rule (green sentences)
  4. The Conclusion mirrors the Answer but incorporates a bit more language from the rule (purple sentence)