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Could a child you never knew about get a share of your estate?

On Behalf of | Jul 18, 2022 | Estate Planning

There are many reasons why it’s wise for just about everyone to have some type of estate plan in place – even if it’s just a simple will. Let’s look at one that many people don’t consider. However, if you’re a man who’s had your fair share of sexual encounters over the years (even if those days are far in the past), you should.

An estate plan allows you to determine (among many other things) how your assets will be distributed after you’re gone. Most people leave a large part of their assets to their children if they have them. 

But what happens if someone comes forward after you’re gone and claims to be your biological child? Maybe their mother told them you were their father even though neither of them was in touch with you. Maybe they found some old photos, diaries, letters or documents after their mother died. What if they can prove (typically through a DNA test) that they are your “non-marital descendant?”

What happens if you die without a will?

If you die without a will (“intestate”), someone who could prove they were your biological child could be entitled to a share of your estate. Under Mississippi law (and state intestacy succession laws in general), the assets of a person who dies intestate are divided among their spouses and/or descendants. That means your spouse and your children could end up splitting your estate with someone they never knew existed.

An estate plan can help protect your privacy

Another good reason for having an estate plan is that you can craft it in such a way that it avoids probate and therefore can more easily remain out of the public record. This can also help prevent any unwelcome surprises you may not want for your family.

The best way to ensure that your assets go to the people and organizations you intend to have them is to have an estate plan. With experienced legal guidance, you can develop one that meets your needs.