In Pennsylvania, all children, even those you don't know about, inherit if you die without a Will. Let us help make clear who should inherit. Skip to Content

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Can an Illegitimate Child in PA Inherit From My Estate?

Posted on Fri Jan 26, 2024, on Estate Planning

From Our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: “I recently provided information to a genealogy website. If this website were to identify an unknown child of mine, would this child inherit from me and take away from my other children’s inheritance? How can I protect my family from the possibility of a claim from an illegitimate child in PA?” 

Can an Illegitimate Child in PA Inherit from my Estate

Paige Zirrith, Estate Planning Attorney

What is an Illegitimate Child in PA?

Determining who will inherit from a person’s estate at their passing can be a straightforward question or challenging. We live in an age of online genealogy and DNA websites.  People now connect to previously unknown family members. Under intestacy laws, a person’s children inherit part or all of their estate.  There is no legal requirement for you to be aware of the child. If a DNA test proves a child is yours, they are included in the intestate estate.  So yes, in this new age of connectedness, there may be a claim for inheritance from someone the decedent did not know during their lifetime.

Can an Illegitimate Child in PA Inherit from my Estate?

In Pennsylvania, children born outside their parents’ marriage are entitled to the same rights and privileges as children born within their parents’ marriage unless an exception applies. A child born outside of their parents’ marriage may prove they are the child of their father in several ways. Once this is established, that child would be entitled to the same inheritance under intestacy as the parents’ other children.

How Can I Protect my Family from the Possibility of an Illegitimate Child in PA Claiming an Inheritance?  

One way to address this concern is to meet with Klenk Law, LLC’s estate planning attorneys. Ensuring that your estate passes by the terms of your estate plan rather than intestacy protects your family from unwanted outcomes. In your free phone consultation, specific areas of concern should be addressed with your lawyer to ensure that your estate plan reflects your family’s unique situation. Drafting a Revocable Trust or Last Will and Testament could protect your family from a claim from an unknown illegitimate child after your death.

Regardless of the complexity of your case, Klenk Law, LLC’s estate planning attorneys will promptly and effectively pursue your estate planning goals to protect your family in the future.

How Can Klenk Law Help Protect My Family from a Claim of an Illegitimate Child in PA?

Once we establish your estate planning goals, our lawyers help select the appropriate documents. Further, we will craft terms within those documents for your family status. Your estate planning document could be used to protect your family by limiting the meaning of your descendants. The terms of the document could expressly address the possibility by defining your descendants.  For example, we can limit it to mean descendants of yourself and your Spouse together. We often craft specific provisions for clients to address these personal estate planning goals.

In Conclusion: What Happens if an Illegitimate Child in PA Comes Forward After My Death?

We hope you found this short article about issues raised by an Illegitimate Child in PA helpful. Contact us if you want to know more or need our help with a claim from an illegitimate child. Let our estate planning lawyers help you walk you through what can be a confusing process. Feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. 

If you would like to read more about Estate Planning, feel free to follow this link to more articles:  Estate Planning, Everything You Need To Know

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Article by Attorney Paige Zirrith, Philadelphia County Estate Planning & Estate Administration Attorney.


Estate Attorney, Estate Lawyer, Estate Planning, Illegitimate Child

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