Am I entitled to any benefits from a deceased father that I never knew?

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Am I entitled to any benefits from a deceased father that I never knew?

I am 29 years old and my mother recently told me that my father was a detention officer murdered by an inmate in 2009. She stated that he told her that he didn’t want to have anything to do with me. I have heard that he had a wife and daughter that may have received a large settlement from the sheriff’s department. Am I entitled to any of these benefits?

Asked on January 7, 2011 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First of all I will assume the you can prove paternity (i.e. that this man was in fact your biological father).  That being the case, if he died with a Will you may or may not have inheritance rights to his estate.  A child can be disinherited.  However, some states require specific language to that effect; merely not mentioning the child may not enough. If he died without a Will (i.e. "intestate"), then the intestacy laws of the state where he was domiciled as of the date of his death will prevail.  The general rule is that a surviving spouse receives 1/3 - 1/2 of the estate, and the children of the deceased share in the remaining 2/3 - 1/2.

So the answer to your question is  - maybe.  Right now you should consult directly with a probate attorney in the area where your father died.  They can best advise as to your rights under applicable law.


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