Children – natural born, adopted or adopted by estoppel in Texas

For the purpose of inheritance, there are natural children, adopted children, children adopted by estoppel, also called equitable adoption and illegitimate children. What do these terms mean?

  1. Natural children are, of course, the children born to the parent.
  2. Adopted children are children that were adopted by the parent through the legal system.
  3. “Adoption by estoppel” sometimes called “equitable adoption” or “adoption status” means those children who were not adopted through the legal system but are nevertheless recognized by the law as the adopted children of a deceased person. This involves children who were raised by a decedent (someone other than their parents) and there must be a parent child relationship established between the person (the decedent) who raised them and the children. It is legally similar to a common law marriage.
  4. Illegitimate children are those whose parents were not married.

When a person dies intestate or when they leave a will that makes general references to “my children” or “my heirs,” all of the above will inherit. Once the status of “child” is established, it makes no difference whether they are natural children, adpoted children or illegitimate children. Adpotion by estoppel is a little different but they still inherit from the parent. See the discussion of informal adoptions like adoption by estoppelequitable adoption or adoption status here.

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No Forced Heirship In Texas

No Forced Heirship In Texas

Forced heirship is not recognized in Texas for either children or spouses although Texas does have pretermitted child heirship.



Heirship proceeding are different from will contest. If more than four years have passed, it may be difficult, but may not impossible, to gain the inheritance that someone else has that should be the heirs. This is complicated, involving heirship proceedings but there is a possibility that it can be done.

Robert Ray

Board Certified, Personal Injury Trial Law — Texas Board of Legal Specialization. We handle cases all across Texas. Our principal office is in Lantana, Texas (DFW area).

Robert Ray is a Texas attorney who handles inheritance disputes

Why Us?

Inheritance disputes involve someone who has taken advantage of the elderly. These cases are complicated and most often, but not always, involve outsiders. We represent you knowing that these inheritance disputes are private and painful family matters. We know this is a stressful time for you. We strive to obtain the quickest and best results possible so that you can get this troubling episode behind you.


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