Do You Know Who Your Parents Are?
It is easy for each of us to assume our parents are who we were raised to believe them to be. Before DNA tests were readily available, if your Mom or Dad told you that they were your parent, and if your birth certificate confirmed that, there was no issue about the identity of your parents. Today, that dynamic has changed. With the advent of DNA testing, it is very easy to determine whether your parents or your siblings are, in fact, your blood relatives.
Lawsuits are springing up in the world of probate law, where hushed alleged family secrets are bubbling to the surface when a parent passes away. Allegations of adoptions, outright adultery, and more surface as siblings square off with one another over who is really a child of the deceased. Now a DNA test makes it simple to determine whether the people who raised you are truly your natural parents and siblings. This may matter a great deal when it is time to make distributions from an estate.
The law, as always, prefers certainty over assumed uncertainty. If you have been raised as the child of certain parents, if the birth certificate confirms that you are a child of certain people, then your inheritance rights generally are secure regardless of what a DNA test might show today. On the other hand, if a DNA test confirms that you are a child of a decedent who did not raise you, even if that person never recognized you as their child, you have an opportunity to inherit from that person as your “natural parent”. If there is any doubt, be sure to confirm your parentage while your parents are still alive. It could save much heartache after they pass away.