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.


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. 


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.

Read About Pretermitted children

A pretermitted or forgotten child takes a share of the estate under some circumstancesA pretermitted child or a "forgotten child" is a child of the deceased who is born after a will is made and is not mentioned in the will.

Most states have statutes that deal with this issue. In Texas, the statute provides that if the child is not otherwise provided for by the deceased parent, the child will take a portion of the estate even though he is not mentioned in the will.

If you have questions about your inheritance rights and would like to talk to an estate planning attorney or a lawyer who is familiar with inheritance and probate law to advise you about your inheritance rights, click on the "Contact Us" tab at the top.

PS: A recent case dealt with inheritance and both of the requirements for a child to be considered a pretermitted child. To see a discussion of the case on inheritance rights of pretermitted children, click here.

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.


Children - natural born, adopted or adopted by estoppel

Picture of mother reading to her adopted children who are her heirsFor the purpose of inheritance, there are natural children, adopted children, and children adopted by estoppel, also called equitable adoption. What do these terms mean?

  1. Natural children are, of course, the children born to the parent.
  2. Adopted children are children that were adopted by the parent through the legal system.
  3. "Adoption by estoppel" sometimes called "equitable adoption" or "adoption status" means those children who were not adopted through the legal system but are nevertheless recognized by the law as the adopted children of a deceased person.


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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Robert Ray is the Editor and owner of this site. Board Certified, Personal Injury Trial Law — Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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