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Illegitimate Children, Legitimate Claims: Understanding Your Inheritance Rights

May 8, 2023

Generally, if a person does not have a valid will or estate plan at the time of their death, any probate assets left behind are divided according to that state’s intestacy laws. When it comes to inheritance claims, rights for illegitimate children are governed by the estate plan documents or intestacy laws in the state where the parent dies. Illegitimate children face unique circumstances but, in many states, may be entitled to inherit from their parent’s estate.

What Does the Term “Illegitimate Children” Mean?

In legal terms, an illegitimate child is one that is born to parents who are not married to each other. In the past, these children were often left with little legal protection and limited inheritance rights. However, in recent years, many states have recognized the importance of protecting the rights of illegitimate children when it comes to inheritance—most commonly, inheritance from the biological father. In some cases, these children may have the same inheritance rights as their legitimate siblings, depending on the specific laws in their state.

What Rights Do Illegitimate Children Have in Ohio?

In Ohio, intestacy law governs inheritance rights for illegitimate children. Under this law, an illegitimate child can inherit from their parent’s estate—but there’s a catch. The illegitimate child must prove a biological connection between them through acknowledgment by the father on the birth certificate, voluntary “Acknowledgment of Paternity Affidavit,” Administrative Order of Paternity, or by court order of paternity.

When Can an Illegitimate Child Make a Claim on Their Inheritance?

There are time limits to keep in mind. Once a child turns 18, they only have five years to file an action to determine paternity. And the law does not extend this time in a situation regarding a right to inheritance.

What Should I Do to Make an Inheritance Claim as an Illegitimate Child?

It’s important to note that these laws can vary widely and may change over time, so it’s crucial to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to fully understand your rights and options. With the help of a knowledgeable legal team, illegitimate children can ensure that their rightful inheritance claims are protected and upheld.

At Wood + Lamping, we recognize the importance of protecting the rights of all children and strive to provide you with comprehensive legal counsel every step of the way. We look forward to helping you navigate this unique situation and the complex laws governing inheritance rights. If you’re ready to start talking about your claim to the estate of a parent or have illegitimate children you would like to include in your estate plan, please contact Louis Katz at lhkatz@woodlamping.com.

About the Author

Louis H. Katz

Louis H. Katz

Louis Katz concentrates his practice in Estate Planning and Probate as well as Real Estate Law.

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