It is always sad when a parent dies, but when their child is still a minor, it can be even more tragic. And it may be even more common than you think. According to national statistics, one in 14 children will lose a parent before they turn 18. This comes out to approximately 4 million children each year. The emotional impact of losing a parent is often devastating for a child, but there are also financial impacts. This leads to the question of what is a minor child entitled to when their parent dies.
Estate law is a complex – and often confusing – area of law. Unfortunately, many people die without having any kind of will or estate plan in place. For those that do, if the decedent didn’t have a qualified estate administration lawyer helping them with their estate plan, then there are often issues that arise during the probate process.
This can all be even more confusing when a child is involved. The inheritance rights of minor children of a parent are often misunderstood, especially if the parent died without a will. Dying without a will is legally referred to as intestate. If the person did have a will, then this is legally referred to as testate.
Child’s Inheritance Rights if the Parent Died with a Will
Unlike spouses, children – even minor ones – do not have a legal right of inheritance. However, if a child is left out of a will, then there are grounds to challenge it. For example, if a child is not named in the will, the court often rules that the parent “forgot” to include the child and will rule the child is entitled to an inheritance from the estate.
Another example is if the child was born after the will had been drawn up, this could be deemed an accidental disinheritance and the court could rule the child is entitled to an inheritance.
The only exception to these “accidental disinheritances” is if the parent specifically states in the will that they are intentionally not leaving the child any inheritance.
Child’s Inheritance Rights if the Parent Died Without a Will
If the parent did not have a will when they died, then the law says that their surviving spouse (if they were legally married at the time of death) and their children will share the estate. Typically, if there was only one child, then the spouse will get one-half of the estate and the child will receive the other half. If there is more than one child, then the spouse will get one-third and the children will receive equal parts of the balance.
As mentioned above, trying to determine what a minor child is entitled to when their parent dies can be very complex and often requires the legal expertise of a seasoned estate lawyer. To ensure your children are protected and cared for should something happen to you, call a seasoned Scranton estate administration lawyer from Hoegen & Associates, P.C. today.