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Importance of Legitimation And How it Affects The Right of Inheritance?

Thompson Mungo Firm Aug. 24, 2022

By legitimizing your fatherhood, you secure your child’s right to inherit from your estate through legitimation.

What is legitimation?

Legitimation is a legal action that gives the father a legal right to his child. Suppose the father files for legitimation; the father's rights for his child are ensured. He becomes legally acknowledged as the father of his child even without marrying the mother. The father has no restriction on seeing his child. He has shared custody, visitation rights, and financial support with his child.  

Legitimation also gives the child validation and the right to claim an inheritance from his father. This means that when it's time for the child to claim their inheritance, they will be able to prove that they are an heir-at-law without having to prove to the court by other means.

Why is it important to legitimize fatherhood?

Legitimation has important benefits for the father and the child.

Here’s the following advantages: 

  1. It establishes and protects the child's legal relationship with the father.

  2. It gives the father the legal rights to custody and visitation with the child.

  3. It gives the child the right to inherit from their legal father if and when the father passes away. Likewise, the father has the right to inherit from the estate of his child.

  4.  It protects the child if a father dies without a will in place.

  5. It provides for "the best interest of the child". The well-being, needs, care, protection, and safety of the child are well met. The child's identity, personal history, and background are recognized and secured. 

  6. It gives a child the right to be placed in his father's household and/or relatives if the mother can no longer care for him/her.

  7. It gives the father the right to protect and care for the child if the mother passes without legal challenge.

  8. The child may be able to access the father's and the family's medical history.

  9. It allows the child to receive Social Security benefits if the father passed away and were collecting benefits at the time of the father's death.

  10. It allows the child to be covered by the father's insurance policies if the father were enrolled in a health insurance plan or life insurance policy.

Legitimizing your child means that they will be able to inherit from your estate and can avoid the lengthy and costly effect of probate. While it is not mandatory, it is a smart move for you to legitimize yourself as a parent just as much as it is for them. If your child does not have any paperwork (such as birth certificates) showing that you legitimate them, it may cause future issues when it's time to claim their inheritance.

Also, legitimization is a significant action in an estate plan. It means that if you die without having named a beneficiary or appointed someone to make decisions on your behalf, your property has to be held by the court. This can take months or years and may delay valuable inheritance rights or opportunities for your children. Furthermore, Legitimizing your child also helps prevent unnecessary tax liabilities that could be incurred with intestacy claims, which are taxes levied against the estate instead of your beneficiaries.