Are children entitled to automatically inherit from a parent’s estate?

UPDATED: Dec 14, 2011

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Are children entitled to automatically inherit from a parent’s estate?

My Will states only my legitimate descendants pertaining to mine and my wife’s kids. About 1 to1 1/2 years ago I found out I had a boy and girl from another woman; they are 35 and 34 years of age. They don’t want anything from me other than to know their brothers and sisters. Are they entitled to anything by law?

Asked on December 14, 2011 under Estate Planning, Texas


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Typically, the terms of a Will control just how an estate is to be divided. If children are not listed then they inherit nothing. The fact is that a parent may disinherit their child; typically they have no automatic right to inherit from their parents. 

Although, in such a situation, many state require specific disinheritance language in the Will to protect against an accidental disinheritance.  For example, if it appears the parent did not know about a child; or if the child was born after the Will was signed.  In such cases a child may have a right to “elect against the Will”; that is they have a right to certain assets. 

A local probate attorney can best advise as to the specifics of your situation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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