Protecting Estates.
Protecting Legacies.

Defining the parent-child relationship

The inheritance rights of one’s natural heirs through California’s intestate succession guidelines have been detailed on this blog in the past. A decedent’s children are entitled to a portion of their intestate estate if the children survive them. That is, of course, provided that they qualify as one’s child under state law. 

Section 6450(a) of California’s Probate Code states the obvious fact that one is child of their natural or biological parents (regardless of whether their parents were married). This entitles them to inherit assets through the state’s intestate succession guidelines (again, regardless of their parents’ marital status). Yet what happens if it is the other way around? Are there stipulations that must be met in order for a parent to qualify to inherit a child’s assets? 

The parent-child relationship (in the context of the parent qualifying to inherit a child’s assets per California’s intestate succession guidelines) would not be recognized in any of the following scenarios: 

  • The parent’s parental rights were terminated
  • The parent did not officially recognize the child as their own
  • The parent abandoned the child during the child’s minority (with maintaining contact or providing support) for at least seven consecutive years

Section 6450(b) of the Probate Code also states that a decedent’s adopted children have a right to inherit assets through intestate succession. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that as recently as recently as 2015, 53,549 children were adopted in the U.S. California law states that an adopted child has no claim to their natural parent’s estate unless the two lived together in a parent-child relationship at any time, or the child was adopted by the spouse of their natural parent after said parent’s death. 

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