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

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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

Answers:

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

Answered 9 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.


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