Losing a loved one is difficult enough without your connection to them being called into question. Unfortunately it is sometimes necessary for a DNA test to be conducted before a person’s entitlement to inherit from an estate can be determined. 

Consider undertaking a DNA test

DNA testing often arises where the deceased failed to make provision for a child in their Will. Often the child has been cut out of a Will perhaps because they were illegitimate and the Deceased did not wish for the other family members to become aware of their existence.

If you are an adult child faced with this predicament you could consider undertaking a DNA test to prove you are the biological child of the deceased. If you can establish this it would be open to you to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”) as a child of the deceased and seek reasonable financial provision from the estate even if you are not mentioned in the Will. See our article here for further detail of how a 1975 Act claim can work to redistribute the deceased’s estate regardless of the terms of their Will once the DNA test has established the child is eligible to bring a claim.

There are various DNA tests which can assist with these claims and which go beyond the traditional paternity test made famous by Jeremy Kyle. There are additional tests which can be conducted through reputable court-approved agencies for maternity tests, grandparent tests, sibling tests (full and half siblings) and Aunt/Uncle tests. There is also a test referred to as the Y-Chromosome DNA test which can test males to show their male lineage. 

Uncooperative family member

The differing versions of the tests may be necessary if a particular family member is being uncooperative in refusing to provide samples to enable the test to be conducted. In those circumstances an adverse inference can be drawn by the Court as a result of the refusal (i.e. inferring the refusal is as a result of the test being likely to be positive) and in extreme circumstances samples can be ordered to be taken from the remains of the deceased to determine the issue. 

However, the recent development of science and the law in the field of Y-Chromosome testing (coupled with the alternative familial testing above) may be sufficient to avoid such distressing samples becoming necessary in future and, when coupled with the adverse inference, make the issue of determining parentage all the more worthwhile when deciding whether to proceed with a 1975 Act claim or not. 

The decision of the Court

The ability of the Court to rely upon Y-Chromosome testing for the purposes of determining inheritance was upheld in the case of the Baronetcy of Pringle of Stichill (2016). The Court confirmed in that case that the Y-Chromosome test showed with a “high degree of probability” that Mr Simon Pringle was not the rightful heir to the baronetcy (through his father’s male lineage) and instead held that Mr Norman Murray Pringle was the rightful heir and that the baronetcy had passed down through the wrong heirs since the 8th baronet and meant the records of the inheritance of the baronetcy were adjusted accordingly.

This interesting case reinforces the importance of clients obtaining specialist advice upon their options for proving their entitlement to claim from their loved one’s estate as there are often quirks in the law which can be used to assist our clients with obtaining their rightful inheritance.