Estate planning has gone through a metamorphosis of sorts because of all the ancestry testing and DNA databases that turn up unknown children all the time. Children who may be inheriting an estate as the sole heirs are now finding previously unknown siblings now claiming a piece of the estate. DNA testing can ultimately prove or disprove whether or not these stated heirs are in fact true biological heirs. When big money is at stake this often times turns into an ugly drawn out court case.
I remember one year my husband, who is in the DNA testing business, got a subpoena to testify in such a court case. It was the day after Thanksgiving so he literally had to leave to catch a chain of flights on Thanksgiving day and miss out on all the Thanksgiving festivities so he could testify in court the following morning. Millions of dollars were at stake and both sides were fighting hard. The attorneys representing the known biological child were hoping that making the court day so inconvenient my husband possibly wouldn’t show up to testify. He did ultimately show up and testified on behalf of the illegitimate sibling proving that the illegitimate sibling was in fact a biological heir.
In these cases the DNA tests have to be legal DNA tests that include a chain of custody where the parties being tested are not handling or mailing any of the DNA themselves and the DNA samples are collected by a certified DNA collector who collects the DNA and personally seals the envelopes and personally mails it to the lab. This way there is no room for parties to tamper with the evidence.
The labs are even sometimes subpoenaed to testify on how the testing was performed, how the results were calculated, if all of the requirements were followed and such.
Not all states favor illegitimate children so estate claims may be different from state to state and even if you are the biological child if you are illegitimate it may not matter. The best advice is to contact an attorney in the state where the father’s estate is located and find out what the options are first.
The best advice for people with estates to inherit are to plan ahead for these situations if you know you may have fathered other children or have given birth to someone that you gave up for adoption to factor the possibility that these biological heirs may just show up.