Learn About Texas Inheritance Laws - Children Children

Inheritance Rights of Natural Children

Inheritance rights of natural childrenNatural children are the biological children of their parents. This article discusses the inheritance rights of those children.

In Texas, in general, children inherit the estate of their parents if there is no valid will. The spouse of the parent will also inherit a portion of the estate. How much the spouse inherits depends on whether the spouse is also the parent of the children (more) or the step parent of the children (less.) Read here for a discussion of the kinds of property involved and what the spouse and children receive when there is no will.

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Inheritance Rights of Children

Learn about the inheritance rights of childrenAs an easy starting point to learn about the inheritance rights of children, the following list is provided:

  1. The inheritance rights of natural children;
  2. The inheritance rights of adopted children;
  3. The inheritance rights of children born after a will is made; and
  4. The inheritance rights of illegitimate children.

Click on one of the links above to learn more about the inheritance rights of children. If you don't find the exact answer to your question, use the search box in the upper right hand corner to refine your search.

Copyright by a Texas inheritance attorney. The foregoing information is general in nature and does not apply to every fact situation. If you are concerned about inheritance laws, inheritance rights, have a family inheritance dispute, a property dispute or want information about contesting a will and need an inheritance lawyer, we can help. Please click on the "Contact Us" tab above and use the contact form to contact us today. We are Texas inheritance lawyers and would love to learn about your case. There is no fee for the initial consultation.

Read About the Inheritance Rights of Illegitimate Children.

Illegitimate childrenIn Texas, until 1991, illegitimate children did not inherit from their parents. In that year, the Texas Supreme Court, following an earlier ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court held that the statutes that deny inheritance rights to illegitimate children violate the Constitution's equal protection clause.

As originally enacted, the Texas Probate Code accorded paternal inheritance rights to an illegitimate child only if the parents had married after the child's birth. The statute was amended several times to allow inheritance rights to illegitimate children if the father took some voluntary action to acknowledge the child before he died.

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Learn if Adopted Children Inherit From Their Biological Parents

Can adopted children inherit from their biological parents?In Texas, when a child is adopted, he becomes the child of his adoptive parents. He inherits from and through them. That means that the adopted child will inherit from the ancestors of the parent who adopted him as well as from the parent. There is no difference based on the adoption.

The question is often asked about the Texas inheritance rights of the adopted child from his natural (birth or biological) parents. Generally, the adopted child inherits from his natural parents and his adoptive parents. Of course, this only applies if the parents, adoptive or biological, don't have wills. If either or both have wills, their estate goes to whomever they say in their will. Texas does not have "forced heirship." An adoptive or biological parent does not have to leave anything to his children. But if he does not have a will and dies intestate, then his estate would be divided between all of his children whether natural (birth or biological) or adopted.

An exception to the above rule may occur if the parental rights of the biological parent were terminated by a court order. If the termination order is silent as to inheritance, then the above rule applies. If, however, the termination order says that the child will not inherit from his biological parent, then there would be no inheritance unless the biological parent left a will specifically naming the child as a beneficiary.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Administration on Children, Youth and Families Children's Bureau put out a summary of the various states laws relating to the adoption rights of those adopted, those adopting and the birth parents that may be found here.

An adopted child can contest a will of his parents just as any child can.

Copyright by a Texas inheritance attorney. The foregoing information is general in nature and does not apply to every fact situation. If you are concerned about inheritance laws, inheritance rights, have a family inheritance dispute, a property dispute or want information about contesting a will and need an inheritance lawyer, we can help. Please click on the "Contact Us" tab above and use the contact form to contact us today. We are Texas inheritance lawyers and would love to learn about your case. There is no fee for the initial consultation.

Can Adopted Children Inherit in Texas?

Adoption and inheritanceIn Texas, when a child is legally or formally adopted, they inherit to the same extent as natural children. A formal adoption is where the court system is involved.  A suit for adoption is filed.  Then, in some cases, the state investigates the adopting parents to make sure that they are good candidates for adoption.  The home may also be inspected to make sure that the adopted child will be provided for.  If everything is in good order, the judge approves the adoption and the adopted person becomes the child of the adopting parents with the same rights as a natural born child.  That means that the adopted child inherits not only from the adopting parents but through them.  They will inherit from grandparents and aunts and uncles to the same degree that a natural born child would inherit from them.

Texas also recognizes informal adoptions.  An informal adoption is similar to a common law marriage in that no formal legal proceedings are involved.  These adoptions may be called adoption by estoppel, equitable adoption or adoption status by the courts discussing them.  The courts treat these as contract cases in that once the facts are established, the heirs of the adopting parent are estopped from denying the adopted child his inheritance rights.  The courts look for an enforceable agreement between the adopting parent and the adopted child, his parents or some other person in loco parentis with the child.  The adopting parent agrees to adopt the adopted child then confers affection and benefits upon them and the person who agreed with the adopting parent relies upon the adopted status. These informal adoptions are important where the adopting parent dies without a will.  If the adopting parent leaves a will, he can leave his property to anyone he chooses.  He can leave property to the adopted child or not.  However, if he dies intestate intestate (without a will) then the child adopted by estoppel will inherit a share of this adoptive parent's estate the same as any other child.  906 - 576

The informally adopted child will not inherit from his grandparents (his adoptive parent's parents) unless they were in privity with the adoption.  He will only inherit from his adoptive parents not through them.  In other words, persons not in privity with the adoption are not bound by the adoption. 

Adopted children can contest the will of their parents. A formally adopted child and an informally adopted child whose adoptive grandparents were in privity with the adoption, can contest the will of their adoptive grandparents. Contesting a will is discussed here.

Example:   There is an adoption by estoppel where Joe adopts Jane. Joe dies without a will.  Jane inherits all or part of Joe's estate the same as any child would.

Example:  There is an adoption by estoppel where Joe adopts Jane.  Joe dies with a will that leaves his estate to his parents who survive him.  Jane doesn't inherit from Joe because of the will.  Later, Joe's parents die without a will.  Jane isn't entitled to inherit from Joe's parents if they were not in privity with the adoption.  

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Administration on Children, Youth and Families Children's Bureau put out a summary of the various states laws relating to the adoption rights of those adopted, those adopting and the birth parents that may be found here.

Copyright by a Texas inheritance attorney. The foregoing information is general in nature and does not apply to every fact situation. If you are concerned about inheritance laws, inheritance rights, have a family inheritance dispute, a property dispute or want information about contesting a will and need an inheritance lawyer, we can help. Please click on the "Contact Us" tab above and use the contact form to contact us today. We are Texas inheritance lawyers and would love to learn about your case. There is no fee for the initial consultation.

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