Illegitimate children and inheritance rights in South Africa

illegitimate children
11 Sep 2023


The rights of illegitimate children have been safeguarded and officially recognised in South Africa. Legal distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate offspring were eliminated under the Children’s Act of 2005, ensuring that all children are accorded the same inheritance rights.

Illegitimate children have the right to claim from their father’s estate after he is deceased. If the father left a will and included an illegitimate child as a beneficiary or legatee in the will, there would be a valid claim to the inheritance in terms of the will.

An illegitimate child may still be able to claim from the estate if he/she was left out of the will or the father passed away without leaving a will. According to the “adequate provision” principle recognised by South African law, the child may be eligible to receive money from the estate if it can be proven that the child was financially reliant on the father or that the father had a duty to care for the child.

In cases where paternity is in question, the illegitimate child must present proof that the deceased was the child’s father, such as DNA results or other pertinent records. Speaking with an attorney specialising in a deceased estate is advisable to grasp the legal choices available.


Remembering that laws and regulations might change over time is crucial, so speaking with a legal expert who can provide you with the most current and correct information, depending on your unique circumstances, is always advisable. Contact an Attorney at SchoemanLaw Inc. for all your legal needs!

Article sourced from SchoemanLaw Inc.

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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.)
Celeste Snyders

Celesté Snyders obtained her LLB degree from the University of the Western Cape in 2018. After three years in practice, she was admitted as an Attorney of the High Court... Read more about Celeste Snyders


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