The High Court was asked last month to order the deceased's alleged daughter to provide a DNA sample in order to substantiate her claim for an inheritance from her late father's estate. The father died without leaving a Will and the daughter (if she was proved to be his biological daughter) was entitled to a share in his estate under the intestacy provisions.
However, a woman who was brought up as the daughter's sister, and the other beneficiary entitled under the intestacy rules, challenged the daughter's entitlement, on the basis that she believes the deceased was not her biological father.
The daughter claimed that the challenge must be dismissed as nothing but rumours, but the High Court judge agreed that the daughter should provide a DNA sample, otherwise her refusal to consent will be used to draw an adverse inference.
Now that paternity can be established by generic marker testing, which can be done at any time without the need to exhume the body and such testing produces accurate results, it seems that it is only a matter of time before the Courts will become more readily inclined to order DNA testing in inheritance dispute claims.
If the father had made a Will, leaving his estate to the alleged daughter, she would have been entitled to inherit without the need to prove that the deceased was her biological father.
There are steps that can be taken during the administration process to reduce the risks of such claims and it is important that professional advice is sought at the time.