Your father died before he got around to developing an estate plan. You weren’t that concerned about your inheritance because you knew that as his only child, you stood to inherit everything since he and your mother divorced years ago and she never remarried.
Now someone has come forward claiming to be your father’s child from a long-ago affair. Your father got around back in the day, so you’re concerned there may be others out there who can make that claim – and prove it.
Are these people allowed to inherit part of your father’s estate? If your father died without a will (intestate), then they can under Rhode Island law.
What state law says about children born outside of marriage
The law doesn’t differentiate between children born within a marriage and those born outside of marriage. As long as someone can scientifically prove their relationship (typically through DNA testing) or the father officially acknowledged a person as their child while they were alive, they can claim an inheritance as a child of the deceased person under our intestate laws.
It should also be noted that, unlike most states, Rhode Island law allows children who were put up for adoption to inherit from their biological parents if they die intestate. That means if a woman had a baby as a young woman and gave them up for adoption, that child could claim an inheritance under the same conditions (if she died intestate).
Intestate laws in all states typically award inheritances to people based on their familial proximity to the deceased. Of course, this often doesn’t reflect how close the deceased person actually was to any of these people and doesn’t consider whether they’re able to handle what could be a large inheritance.
These are just a couple of reasons why just about every adult should consider having a minimum of a will and often a more comprehensive estate plan. However, if you’re dealing with a situation like that discussed here after a loved one has died, it’s best to seek legal guidance.