A child born in a marriage inherits from both of their parents unless they are specifically excluded. Should the parent pass without a will, or intestate, the local probate court will act as the executor and distribute assets according to Texas probate law to distribute assets from the estate.
If the parents are or were married, the husband is the presumed father of any children born during the marriage. The children (and a surviving spouse) would generally share equally in the estate assets. If the deceased had a will, the estate would be distributed according to the will. If the child’s parents were never married, the child will not inherit anything unless the father establishes his own paternity for the child or children before his death.
How Paternity Makes a Difference
Unmarried fathers in Texas shouldn’t assume that their children will just naturally receive an inheritance when they die. Unfortunately, that’s not always how it works. Inheritances go to acknowledged biological children, or those born during a marriage unless separate paternity is established for a child born outside of marriage.
Established paternity also means that the child can be covered by the father’s insurance policy. If the father becomes disabled or dies, the children may also receive Social Security disability benefits or wrongful death compensation.
A woman may also have a child during the duration of the marriage that isn’t that of the husband, especially if finalizing the divorce took a long time. Texas divorce law no longer includes “legal separation.” The child may be legally considered the husband’s since they are still legally married at the time of the child’s birth.
The husband can disinherit the child in his will and request a DNA test to prove the child wasn’t his. The child may inherit nothing from either without established paternity.
Writing a Will and Creating an Estate Plan
Once paternity has been established and the biological father has been declared the legal father, a child can inherit from him even if there is no will. Without paternity, the child may receive nothing when the father dies.
If the father has not established paternity, he can include the child or children in their will and estate plan to ensure that they are provided for. This is important if the child or children are disabled or have other special needs. But without legally establishing paternity, it is possible that the will can be contested by a spouse, other children, or other beneficiaries. The child could potentially receive nothing.
Help In Fort Worth With Establishing Paternity
Establishing paternity is one of the most important things you can do for your child. When both parents have a strong, loving relationship with their children, it gives them a good start in life and a stable upbringing.
For more than 20 years, Wendy L. Hart has been a family law attorney helping people throughout Tarrant County, Texas with paternity and other practice areas of family law including divorce, adoption, and custody. She understands that family law matters affect the entire family, and thus it is important to have an experienced family law attorney who will treat your case with the utmost respect and confidentiality. If you are seeking to establish your paternity rights, we work to ensure that your rights are secured. Schedule your appointment with our online contact form, or call us at (817) 842-2336. We’re ready to help.