My father left me as the beneficiary on two bank accounts and they only needed my name and ID to verify...but the rest of his estate has not been dealt with yet by my step mother. My father had no will. When the rest of his estate is listed and divided will I need my birth certificate? My parents weren't married when I was born and my father was not present. They were married when I was 5 years old and my last name was changed on my birth certificate, but my dad never went to have his name put on it. But he paid child support after my parents divorced. Can this be enough proof that he is my father? Or will I not be listed on his estate? Or will it be up to my step mother?
This is mostly a Probate issue. Does your stepmom concede that you are his child? If not, start looking for legal proof that you are his child. If he paid child support through a court order, then there would be some kind of finding of paternity in the court documents. That should be enough.
Someone needs to go to the courthouse (Estates Division) and open up an Estate for your dad so that his property and debts can be properly dealt with under the law.
This answer is intended as general information and not as specific legal advice.
Yes, you can still inherit from your father's estate, upon proof of paternity to the Clerk's satisfaction in the course of probate. First, either you or your stepmother need to consult with a local probate lawyer and discuss, preliminarily, the following: (1) whether full probate needs to be opened based on your father's asset situation at death, or whether a small estate proceeding is more appropriate; (2) whether there are any known outstanding creditors or claims that need to be satisfied before distributions to your father's heirs-at-law are made; and (3) whether your lineage as your father's child and natural heir are stipulated between you and your stepmother, or whether that needs to be proven due to that question being contested. Having a probate lawyer's perspective on these and other points would be highly useful to all concerned before anyone initiates probate by seeking Letters of Administration (or small estate affidavit collection authority, in the alternative). Use Avvo's "Find a Lawyer" feature as a search tool if needed, and also consider contacting the Mecklenburg County Bar for potential referrals. Best wishes to you and your family in 2020.
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline