2007 Regular Session
To: Judiciary A
By: Representative Gunn
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 91-1-15, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH AN ILLEGITIMATE CHILD MAY INHERIT FROM THE NATURAL FATHER; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 91-1-15, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
91-1-15. (1) The following terms shall have the meaning ascribed to them herein:
(a) "Remedy" means the right of an illegitimate to commence and maintain a judicial proceeding to enforce a claim to inherit property from the estate of the natural mother or father of such illegitimate, said claim having been heretofore prohibited by law, or prohibited by statutes requiring marriage between the natural parents, or restrained, or enjoined by the order or process of any court in this state.
(b) "Claim" means the right to assert a demand on behalf of an illegitimate to inherit property, either personal or real, from the estate of the natural mother or father of such illegitimate.
(c) "Illegitimate" means a person who at the time of his birth was born to natural parents not married to each other and said person was not legitimized by subsequent marriage of said parents or legitimized through a proper judicial proceeding.
(d) "Natural parents" means the biological mother or father of the illegitimate.
(2) An illegitimate shall inherit from and through the illegitimate's mother and her kindred, and the mother of an illegitimate and her kindred shall inherit from and through the illegitimate according to the statutes of descent and distribution. However, if an illegitimate shall die unmarried and without issue, and shall also predecease the natural father, the natural mother or her kindred shall not inherit any part of the natural father's estate from or through the illegitimate. In the event of the death of an illegitimate, unmarried and without issue, any part of the illegitimate's estate inherited from the natural father shall be inherited according to the statutes of descent and distribution.
(3) An illegitimate shall inherit from and through the illegitimate's natural father and his kindred, and the natural father of an illegitimate and his kindred shall inherit from and through the illegitimate according to the statutes of descent and distribution if:
(a) The natural parents participated in a marriage ceremony before the birth of the child, even though the marriage was subsequently declared null and void or dissolved by a court; or
(b) There has been an adjudication of paternity or legitimacy before the death of the intestate; or
(c) There has been an adjudication of paternity after the death of the intestate, based upon clear and convincing evidence, in an heirship proceeding under Sections 91-1-27 and 91-1-29. However, no such claim of inheritance shall be recognized unless the action seeking an adjudication of paternity is filed within one (1) year after the death of the intestate or within ninety (90) days after the first publication of notice to creditors to present their claims, whichever is less; and such time period shall run notwithstanding the minority of a child. This one-year limitation shall be self-executing and may not be tolled for any reason, including lack of notice. If an administrator is appointed for the estate of the intestate and notice to creditors is given, then the limitation period shall be reduced to ninety (90) days after the first publication of notice, if less than one (1) year from the date of the intestate's death; provided notice is given to all potential heirs who could be located with reasonable diligence. No claim of inheritance based on an adjudication of paternity, after death of the intestate, by a court outside the State of Mississippi shall be recognized unless:
(i) Such court was in the state of residence of the intestate at the time of the intestate's death;
(ii) The action adjudicating paternity was filed within ninety (90) days after the death of the intestate;
(iii) All known heirs were made parties to the action; and
(iv) Paternity or legitimacy was established by clear and convincing evidence.
(d) The natural father of an illegitimate and his kindred shall not inherit:
(i) From or through the child unless the father has openly treated the child as his, and has not refused or neglected to support the child.
(ii) Any part of the natural mother's estate from or through the illegitimate if the illegitimate dies unmarried and without issue, and also predeceases the natural mother. In the event of the death of an illegitimate, unmarried and without issue, any part of the illegitimate's estate inherited from the mother shall be inherited according to the statutes of descent and distribution.
A remedy is hereby created in favor of all illegitimates having any claim existing prior to July 1, 1981, concerning the estate of an intestate whose death occurred prior to such date by or on behalf of an illegitimate or an alleged illegitimate child to inherit from or through its natural father and any claim by a natural father to inherit from or through an illegitimate child shall be brought within three (3) years from and after July 1, 1981, and such time period shall run notwithstanding the minority of a child.
The remedy created herein is separate, complete and distinct, but cumulative with the remedies afforded illegitimates as provided by the Mississippi Uniform Law on Paternity; provided, however, the failure of an illegitimate to seek or obtain relief under the Mississippi Uniform Law on Paternity shall not diminish or abate the remedy created herein.
(4) The children of illegitimates and their descendants shall inherit from and through their mother and father according to the statutes of descent and distribution.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.