If my father was not married to my mother, doI have any claim to his estate?

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If my father was not married to my mother, doI have any claim to his estate?

I have 1 brother.

Asked on July 14, 2011 under Estate Planning, Ohio

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Did your father have a Will? If he did and you were not mentioned in it you may have been disinherited. And it is perfectly legal to disinherit a child. However, most states require special wording in a Will to prevent accidental disinheritance. For example, if the deceased was not aware that they even had a child. So basically if you were not listed as beneficiary in your father's will you are not entitled to inherit unless he was unaware of your birth.

If, on the other hand, your father did not have a Will when he died then he died "intestate". Accordingly the laws of the state in which he was domiciled when he passed will control. In most states, that means that the estate is split between a surviving spouse, if any, and all children (even illegitimate; however if you were adopted that may affect your rights of inheritance). If your father was unmarried his estate would be split between you and your brother 50/50.

Note: Not all of your father's assets would necessarily be included in his probate estate. For example: life insurance proceeds, 401k funds, joint bank accounts and, in some cases, co-owned real estate.

Since this is just a general overview you should consult directly with a probate attorney in your area.


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