Does an illegitimate child have a claim against his late father’s estate?

illegitimate child
29 May 2023

A client asked: “I am an illegitimate child and my father passed away. Can I claim from his estate?”

In South Africa, the rights of illegitimate children have been protected and are recognised by the law. The Children’s Act of 2005 abolished the legal distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate children, ensuring that all children are treated equally in terms of inheritance rights.

If his father passed away and he is his illegitimate child, he has the right to claim from his father’s estate, in these circumstances.

If the father left a will and included the client as a beneficiary or legatee in the will, he would have a valid claim to the inheritance specified in the document.

However, if he was excluded from the will or the deceased died without a will, the client may still have a claim against the estate. South African law recognises the principle of “adequate provision”, which means that if he can show that he was financially dependent on his father or that he had an obligation to maintain him, the client may be entitled to claim from the estate.

If paternity is in dispute, the client must provide evidence that the deceased was the father, such as DNA testing or any other relevant documentation. It is advisable to consult with a lawyer who specialises in estate law or inheritance matters to understand the specific legal options available.

It’s important to note that laws and regulations can change over time, and it’s always best to consult with a legal professional who can provide you with the most up-to-date and accurate information based on your specific situation.

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(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)

Roy Bregman is an accredited divorce mediator and specialises in: - Drafting of antenuptial and postnuptial contracts; - Winding up of deceased estates; - Arbitration, mediation and alternative dispute resolution;...


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