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HoganWillig Helps Shape Law

November 4, 2010

HoganWillig’s Estate Department represented two siblings in a hotly contested and litigated estate. The siblings were alleged out-of-wedlock children of the decedent. Our position was that the decedent had a long-standing relationship with our clients’ mother, even though he was married with marital children. Although the decedent had not completed a genetic blood test during his lifetime, we were able to have genetic testing completed of the known marital children against the DNA of the out-of-wedlock children to show evidence of a genetic link between all of the children.

Under the old law, an out-of-wedlock child could only inherit from a deceased father’s estate if the child showed clear and convincing evidence of paternity and the father openly and notoriously acknowledged paternity of the child.  Alternatively, paternity could be proven if a genetic marker blood test was administered to the father during the father’s lifetime.

Based on this case and after the court ruled in our favor, the New York EPTL (Estates, Powers and Trusts Law) 4-1.2 statute has been amended so that paternity can now be established by clear and convincing evidence which may include DNA testing or evidence that the father openly and notoriously acknowledged the child as his own.

This amendment is a great leap forward in the progress for inheritance by non-marital children and made a substantial impact our clients as well as for future generations for many others.

For more information, contact Linda Stravalaci Grear at 716-636-7600.