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Determining parentage for intestate succession

The process of intestate succession (and the guidelines governing it) have been detailed on this blog in the past. As the child of one who dies without a will, you have the right to inherit a portion of your parent's assets. Yet oftentimes clients come to see members of our team here at Stephen A. Martin Attorney at Law when the issue of establishing parentage arises. This may seem a simple enough task; simply identify a decedent's issue (their direct descendants). Yet what if you are not the biological child of a decedent, your parents were unwed? Are you still entitled to inherit assets under the state's intestate succession guidelines? 

The simple answer is yes you are, yet the order in which you stand to inherit anything depends on your relationship with the decedent. If the decedent was your adopted parent, then you are viewed as being part of their issue. Per Section 474.060 of Missouri's Revised Statutes, if your parents were not married at the time of your birth, you are automatically considered to be the biological child of your mother. You would also be considered the biological child of your father if he and your married were married either before or after you were born (even if the marriage was subsequently voided), or if paternity is established prior to your father's death or after his death by clear and convincing proof. 

If you are part of a blended family, then you may indeed be able to inherit assets from the intestate estate of your step-parent (even if they did not adopt you). Your right to inheritance would typically only be recognized, however, if your step-parent had no surviving biological family. 

You can learn more about your potential rights of inheritance by continuing to browse through our site. 

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