There is a Will
If there is a will, it may determine who inherits even if the person didn’t know of the newly discovered heir.
There is no Will
If you recently discovered your ancestors through DNA, and there is no will, you may inherit the same as other heirs.
Whether there is a will or not, if the family doesn’t acknowledge you as an heir, you may have to file a paternity suit.
DNA and newly discovered parents in Texas
With the advent of DNA testing kits that are prevalent today, many people, who do not know who their parents are, search for them through DNA databases. They will sometime find information on an unknown parent, grand parent, etc. What does that mean as far as inheritance?
There is a will
If a person leaves a will, the will determines who inherits his property. Texas does not have forced heirship e.g. a person has to leave some of his property to his children. In Texas, like most states, you do not have to leave anything to your children. What that means is, if the person leaves a will that disposes of all of his property, no one will inherit except those named in the will. That doesn’t change based on the fact that he may have had children that he didn’t know. One possible exception is a pretermitted child.
If the will leaves property to his “children” or his “descendants” or his “heirs” or something similar without naming who they are, the children who are searching for their parent because of a DNA test may be entitled to a share of the property. A person must first determine if there is a will and what the will says. When a will is filed for probate, it is filed with the county clerk in the county where the decedent resided. Once filed, it is a public record and anyone can get a copy.
There is no will
What if the person dies intestate meaning he dies without a will? In that case, his heirs which include his children will inherit his estate, generally. Depending on when the person died, the wife may inherit some his property but most property would go to his heirs (his children) with some exceptions.
One big problem with these cases is paternity. If the child seeking their parent was not acknowledged by the parent and the issue of paternity is to be decided by a court, there may be time limits involved. The further back in time it has been since the parent died, the more difficult the process may be.
The issues surrounding these cases need to be discussed with an attorney.
Update: I have posted a podcast about this subject. You can listen to it on most podcast platforms. Here are a few: Apple, Spotify or Anchor.
Necessary Disclaimer: Do not take, or refrain from taking, any action based on what you read. You need to discuss your situation with an attorney who can advise you based on your facts.
If you have a question about a pending or anticipated lawsuit about contesting a will in Texas, use the Contact Us page at the top of the site to see if we can help.
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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).
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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