Illegitimate children are those born outside of marriage, or out of wedlock, in older terminology. These days the word “illegitimate” has largely been replaced in law by the term “ex-nuptial” – nuptial referring to marriage. Either way, can an ex-nuptial child inherit from their natural parents? Or contest a natural parent’s will for provision out of their estate? What if no will was left?
Inheritance and intergenerational transfer of property has concerned families and civilisations for centuries. Inheritance laws of the ancient city of Gortyn (Gortys), Crete were inscribed on stone in a public place in the fifth century. The Law Code of Gortyn is a written set of rules prescribing who inherits, among other private matters, so as to keep property in the male side of family.
A family tree outlining close family/next of kin relationships is useful in preparing to make a will, and as a reference in situations of intestacy.
A will is a testamentary document, often referred to by lawyers as an ‘instrument’, setting out what a person intends to have happen to their property, (real and personal), and other matters, when they die.
It is the legal way to record a person’s instructions and wishes on how they want their property distributed on the event of their death, and who is to responsible for carrying out those wishes.
Because it is to take effect only on death, a will is referred to as being ‘testamentary’.
A testamentary document or instrument is one which its writer intends, at the time of writing it, to come into effect when they die, and not before. It is where a person sets out their intentions for the distribution of their property when they die.
“The Romans were also wont to set aside testaments as being inofficiosa, deficient in natural duty, if they disinherited or totally passed by (without assigning a true and sufficient reason) any of the children of the testator.”