How can establishing paternity provide inheritance rights?

On Behalf of | Apr 16, 2021 | Family Law

As an unmarried father in Arizona, you can benefit your offspring by establishing paternity. Your child may learn your family history, access your insurance benefits, and develop a better sense of self. Additionally, proving your paternity can also provide for your child’s future when you are no longer around to provide care and support.

Biological children have certain rights to inherit from their parents. If you establish paternity, you can place your child in a strong position to inherit from your estate after you die.

Intestacy and inheritance rights

According to Smart Asset, if you die intestate, meaning you die without making out a will, your spouse and your children have the right to inherit from your estate. If you have no spouse, state law dictates that your child or children will inherit all of your estate. However, this only works if the state recognizes you as your children’s father.

If you have children through arrangements other than marriage, they may not have intestate inheritance rights. For instance, stepchildren and foster children do not have the right to inherit from an intestate estate. Similarly, if you have a child out of wedlock and do not establish paternity, state law does not confer automatic inheritance rights on that child.

Making estate plans

One way to avoid the problems of intestacy is to write a will. Even if you have not established paternity, you may name any biological child as an heir. If a court recognizes your will as valid, your children can legally inherit from you no matter your familial arrangement. You can also set up a trust to provide money or property for a child.

Still, there is a possibility another family member might challenge the will in court. If a judge decides not to enforce your will, your child could lose out. Establishing paternity can provide a failsafe for your child and help ensure that a court will not cut your child out of a deserved inheritance.