Can an Illegitimate Child Contest a Will?
When a loved one passes away, you and your family are likely grieving your loss. Next comes the painful task of probating the will. Your loved one’s will provides a guide for distribution of his or her estate. Your loved one created a will in order to ensure that his or her assets and belongings would be divided among those specified. While many wills are straightforward, sometimes there are questions. For example, when an important relative is left out of the will, many people wonder whether it can be contested.
Probate is the legal process by which a deceased person’s estate passes to his or her beneficiaries. In general, Texas probate law allows someone to contest a will only under a few circumstances. These include forgery or fraud, the location of another will, incapacitation of a beneficiary or unknown beneficiaries.
An unknown beneficiary is someone who was unaware of the probate process because he or she was not informed. An unknown beneficiary could be an illegitimate child of the deceased. A child born out of wedlock may be unaware of his parent and may not know about the death or the probate.
When illegitimate children, forgotten children, or adopted children are left out of a will, they may be able to contest it. In general, illegitimate children have the same inheritance rights as natural children. However, the illegitimate child must be able to prove that the deceased is his or her parent.
How to Contest a Will
If you are an illegitimate child, you may still contest a will. There is a process in place to contest a will in probate. In general, you must contest a will within two years of probate. The probate date is the day the probate court determines that the will is valid. If you were unaware of the death or were not informed about the probate of the will, you may have a longer period of time to contest it.
Keep in mind that you must be able to provide proof of paternity in order to show that you are a child of the deceased. You must petition the probate court to determine paternity. If you were unaware of the death or the probate you may be allowed an additional four years to contest the will. However, it is important to know that probate law can be very complicated. If you find that you need to contest a will, it is best to speak with a qualified will and probate attorney. Your lawyer will review your particular situation and help determine the course of action that you should take.
While an illegitimate child can contest a will, it must be done within the confines of the law. If you were left out of a will or were not aware of the death of a parent, you may need to contest the will. Contact Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C. 713-221-6800 to learn how we can help you obtain your rightful inheritance.