Many people assume that even if their parent died without a will, they will still be entitled to inherit by virtue of their familial relationship. This is not always the case.
Let’s say that your father passes away without a will—also known as dying “intestate”. Although your father and mother were very much in love when you were born, they never legalized their relationship. You contact the administrator of the estate to get an update on your inheritance and they tell you that you must prove that you’re the child of your father before they can distribute anything to you.
Can they do this? The answer is yes. When a father passes away with children who were born out of wedlock, those children or their representative must prove their “legitimacy” before they will be entitled to their share of the estate.
It is not enough that the father’s name is on the child’s birth certificate. They must have been formally legitimized by the adoption process, by the putative father filing a petition with the court, or by subsequent marriage of the putative father and birth mother.
Proving whether an individual is a legitimate child of the decedent is a rare issue. For obvious reasons, it does not apply if the decedent is the child’s mother. But due to North Carolina’s antiquated laws, the manner in proving one’s relation to their putative father is rather restricted. If you have questions about your inheritance or the probate process in general, give the experienced attorneys at McIntyre Elder Law a call at (704) 259-7040. LEARN MORE AT: mcelderlaw.com/probate.
Brenton S. Begley
Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
“We help seniors maintain their lifestyle and preserve their legacies.”
PO Box 165
Shelby, NC 28151-0165