Am I entitled to a portionmy father’s estate ifmy parents were never married?

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Am I entitled to a portionmy father’s estate ifmy parents were never married?

My father and my mother where never married. My father died on 8-17-10. He was married but his wife died in 2001. Of that marriage my father had 2 children. Am I entitled to anything of my father’s? He owned a home and several classic cars and other things. My half-brother and sister went to the Surrogates office yesterday but I have no idea what was done. They will not include me in anything.

Asked on September 2, 2010 under Estate Planning, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First, alot depends on whether there was a will. If there was a will, the terms of the will control--he could leave as much as wants to anyone, and conversely exclude anyone. So if there's will, what you would or would not get will be controlled by the will.

If there's no will and there are surviving children (but no surviving spouse), usually they will  split the estate. It doesn't matter for that purpose whether the recently deceased parent had been married to a child's other parent; marriage doesn't affect inheritance for children.

Of course, if you were an unacknowledged child, then proving you were a child could take some effort. Also, if there was a will and it left everything to his "children" (rather than identifying them by name) you would seem to stand to inherit, but an issue could be whether anyone has informed the court or the executor that there is this other child, you. You may wish to consider consulting with an attorney, who might take action on your behalf to force the will to be produced (so you can see what it says) and also who can help make sure you are acknowledged in all the ways necessary. A trusts and estates attorney should be able to help you.


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