Could Your Deadbeat Dad Steal Your Inheritance?


In California, if an individual passes without executing a will, the individual is said to have died “intestate” and the individual’s property is distributed according to the statutes on intestate succession.1 If the individual passes intestate unmarried and with no children, then their property is distributed to their parents equally.2 In such a circumstance, an absentee parent that neglected their responsibilities towards their child during their life will likely still receive a portion of their child’s inheritance. California law does have an exception, however, which provides that a parent does not inherit from or through a child if any of the following apply:

  • The parent’s parental rights were terminated and the parent-child relationship was not judicially reestablished.
  • The parent did not acknowledge the child.
  • The parent left the child during the child’s minority without an effort to provide for the child’s support or without communication from the parent, for at least seven consecutive years that continued until the end of the child’s minority, with an intent to abandon the child. Failing to provide support or to communicate for the prescribed period is presumptive evidence of an intent to abandon.3

If you are like many Americans, you may have been raised in a single parent household and have little relationship with your other biological parent. Nonetheless, if you pass intestate unmarried and with no children, that absentee parent may still receive a portion of your assets. Do you want your deadbeat parent to receive your inheritance?

We can help you create or amend your estate plan to ensure that your property will go to those you want, when you want, and in the way you want. Please call us today to set up an appointment so we can discuss your unique circumstances and goals and the best tools for accomplishing your wishes.

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