Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in California

Illegitimate son's ''right'' to view deceased father's will/documents

I recently discovered my biological father (no DNA test) died of a stroke July 20, 2001 (our last contact was in 1993).

He resided and was buried in Los Angeles County.

His family has never acknowledged my existance (though they know of me).

No probate records exist (assets held in a family trust with spouse and family).

I estimate his estate at over $1 million.

What are my ''rights'' as his illegitimate son to view will/documents if these exist?

What legal options might I pursue for answers from his family?

Asked on 4/30/02, 11:14 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Victor Hobbs Victor E. Hobbs

Re: Illegitimate son's ''right'' to view deceased father's will/documents

An heir (child of the deceased) who is not mentioned in the Will or Trust is presumed to have been forgotten and come in for a full share. That's why the practice of putting someone into a Will or Trust for $1.00 prevails to today. It appears that you'll have to sue for some type of affirmative relief to get an accounting of the deceased's estate in and out of the trust. You may have to file a petition for probate yourself as a prospective heir. If you had been mentioned and left a small sum I'd think they'd want to show that to you. I'd guess (always a problem) that you were never mentioned. Without a will or with just a 'pour over will,' everything in the estate would go to the surviving spouse. And the deceased's other children would not get anything until their other parent dies, and leave the whole estate to the heirs or beneficiaries. You're probably dealing with ignorant people who don't know what their rights are. So they're stone walling you.

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Answered on 5/01/02, 10:34 am

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