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Quote of the Day - Money and time are the heaviest burdens of life, and the unhappiest of all mortals are those who have more of either than they know how to use. - Samuel Johnson
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Child Born Out Of Wedlock Entitled To Share In Father's Estate, Even Without A Will

What happens to a child when his father dies without a will, and doesn't actively get involved with the child's life?  According to a recent case here, In re:  Estate of Burden, the child is treated the same as children who are acknowledged as his children. 

According to the facts of our case, Gregory Burden fathered a child, Dale Agnew, out of wedlock, in 1971.  The child, Dale, met Gregory's mother and siblings, and spoke to his father Gregory for the first time when he turned 18.  Dale eventually developed a close relationship with Gregory's relatives, but Gregory stated that he did not want to be part of Dale's life.  Gregory never responded to any of Dale's overtures, but also never denied being Dale's father. Later,  Gregory died without a will, and a probate court found that Dale was entitled to the same equal share of Gregory's estate as was Gregory's other biological child, Dale's half-sister Tara.

This scenario has some similarities to James Brown's situation with two major differences.  James Brown had a will and he died in Georgia, not California.  He had seven children, six of whom were mentioned in his will.  James Brown's youngest child wasn't mentioned in his will.  In California, as it appears that it is in Georgia, a child not mentioned in a will is out of luck. 

That's why lawyers encourage their clients to update their wills and trusts as major life events occur.  Sometimes they even make provisions in wills for children born after the will is written.  But the better practice is to keep your will and trust up to date. 

Give your lawyer (or this one) a call.  Your family will be glad you did.

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, January 20, 2007 at 11:25 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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