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Could an unknown half-sibling have an interest in a parent’s estate?

On Behalf of | May 28, 2024 | PROBATE

There is a saying that people come out of the woodwork when there is a potential for financial gain. Those who win the lottery often start receiving requests from acquaintances they knew years ago and total strangers. When someone dies, quite a few different people may feel entitled to a portion of their estate.

Particularly if someone did not leave a clear estate plan, surprise beneficiaries may turn up and expect to receive a portion of the estate after their passing. The death of a parent can be stressful even when preceded by a protracted illness or a long and healthy life. It can be worse if there is a surprise estate claim from a previously unknown family member.

Adult children have a hard time handling the grief of losing a parent. Certain secondary challenges can make the grieving process infinitely more complex. An unknown half-sibling showing up to claim an inheritance could make someone’s children very anxious. Do half-siblings have a right of inheritance in California?

Half-siblings have the same rights as other siblings

Provided that the half-sibling can prove the deceased parent was actually their parent, that half-sibling has the same rights as any other child. Whether or not the child was a product of someone’s marriage has no bearing on their actual inheritance rights.

Particularly in scenarios where the parent who died did not leave a will or the will is not valid, each of the surviving children, including a half-sibling, could potentially have a right to an equal share of the parent’s estate. The deceased parent’s marital status and other details can influence how much of the estate might be at risk.

Adult children who expected to share their inheritance with their three siblings may now find that they have to split the estate among five people instead of four. Not only do they have to wrestle with the frustration of losing a significant portion of what they expected to receive, but they may have to grapple with the idea that their parent was unfaithful or that they had a child that they abandoned and never told the family about despite having years in which they could have done so.

Unusual family situations have a tendency to come to a head during California probate proceedings. Learning more about the rules that govern California estates can help people navigate unusual and complex probate matters, like the surprise appearance of an unknown half-sibling.