From our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: After my father’s death, a man arrived claiming to be my father’s illegitimate son. The will says that my father’s estate is divided between his heirs, “per stirpes.” Can this man get a share of the estate?
The phrase “per stirpes” literally means “by the branch”; distributing an estate equally down the bloodline. So, if your father did not exclude this man and if he is truly your father’s son, then he gets a share of the estate. The estate can demand that he take a DNA test to prove he is your father’s son. This is possible by using your blood and that of your siblings. However, this may require a Petition and order from the Orphans’ Court. Therefore it would be wise for the Personal Representative to retain an experienced Estate Litigation Attorney.