Do Children born in Virginia have claim to a California Estate

Two children born to married parents in the State of Virginia 50 years go by,
and they discover that the man that raised them is not their father. Both the
man that raised them and the real father are deceased. Do they have any claim
to the trust of the real father in California?

Asked on June 15, 2017 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) If their biological or birth father gave up his parental rights entirely, which he would have had to have done if the man who raised them adopted them legally, he would have no claims to any of his property or estate. When person A gives up his parental rights and person B adopts, person A is no longer legally their father, even if biologically he is; person B is the legal father.
2) Related to the above, if the man who raised you is the name that was put on your birth certificate, for legal purposes, the law presumes that he was in fact your father. It is possible  to overturn this presumption with a lawsuit and DNA testing, but this can be difficult and expensive, and *stlll* may not help, as per 1) above and 3) below.
3) Trusts do not automatically pass to or pay benefits to the children or other heirs of the settler (the person who made the trust). Rather they pay out, etc. only as per the terms under which they were created. If the trust pays to certain specified people and not to, say, all children, whether acknowledged or not, then it would not pay to anyone, even children, not named in it.


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