ILNews

Child must show she is born out of wedlock to inherit

Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Ruling on the issue for the first time, the Indiana Court of Appeals held that the plain language of Indiana Code Section 29-1-2-7 requires a child to show she is born out of wedlock for inheritance purposes.

There have been other cases that appear to support the claim a child must show she’s born out of wedlock before application of I.C. Section 29-1-2-7(b), which governs the paternal inheritance to, through, and from children born out of wedlock, but none addressed the issues specifically, noted Judge Nancy Vaidik.

In Victor C. Regalado v. Estate of Joseph Regalado and Paula Heffelfinger, No. 64A05-0911-CV-672, the appellate court unanimously reversed summary judgment for Paula Heffelfinger in Victor Regalado’s petition to determine heirship, which alleged she was not Joseph Regalado’s half-sister. Joseph Regalado received a $15 million settlement from the City of Chicago in 2000 and died intestate in 2004.

His father, Baltasar, had married Heffelfinger’s mother in 2003, when Heffelfinger was 35 years old. They later annulled the marriage in 2005. In the agreement order of annulment, which dealt with property settlement, Baltasar acknowledged Heffelfinger as his biological daughter.

Heffelfinger designated the annulment order, Baltasar’s unsworn July 2003 petition for leave to make gifts in guardianship, which identifies her as Joseph’s sister, a 2003 birthday card he signed as “dad,” a 2004 sworn petition for the appointment of administrator, which identifies her as Joseph’s half-sister, and a 2007 siblingship report stating Heffelfinger and another brother, Tony, have a 98.1 percent probability of being half-siblings.

I.C. Section 29-1-2-7(b)(4) applies to the instant case, which requires for Heffelfinger to inherit from Joseph that the putative father marries the mother of the child and acknowledges the child to be his own.

The designated evidence was sufficient to show that Baltasar acknowledged Heffelfinger as his biological daughter. However, she was unable to show that she was a child born out of wedlock. To be born out of wedlock, the mother must be unmarried when the child is born or married when the child is born, but not to the child’s biological father.

Heffelfinger didn’t show her mother’s marital status at the time of her birth. Baltasar’s acknowledgment of Heffelfinger alone doesn’t establish him as her biological father, wrote Judge Vaidik. There is a marriage, but bare acknowledgement of paternity. In addition, the siblingship report only shows a 98.1 percent probability she is the half-sibling of Tony. Under the statute controlling paternity, if the result of the test is at least a 99 percent probability the man is the father, then it’s presumed he is the biological father.

The judges also rejected Heffelfinger’s argument that Baltasar’s acknowledgment of her in the 2005 annulment order is definitive in establishing paternity. It appears her argument is one of collateral estoppel. The parties’ acknowledgment of Heffelfinger as Baltasar’s biological daughter is gratuitous because the subject matter of the order is a property settlement and because the annulment court will never determine issues of custody and support for Heffelfinger, wrote the judge. The court remanded for further proceedings.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. The appellate court just said doctors can be sued for reporting child abuse. The most dangerous form of child abuse with the highest mortality rate of any form of child abuse (between 6% and 9% according to the below listed studies). Now doctors will be far less likely to report this form of dangerous child abuse in Indiana. If you want to know what this is, google the names Lacey Spears, Julie Conley (and look at what happened when uninformed judges returned that child against medical advice), Hope Ybarra, and Dixie Blanchard. Here is some really good reporting on what this allegation was: http://media.star-telegram.com/Munchausenmoms/ Here are the two research papers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0145213487900810 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213403000309 25% of sibling are dead in that second study. 25%!!! Unbelievable ruling. Chilling. Wrong.

  2. MELISA EVA VALUE INVESTMENT Greetings to you from Melisa Eva Value Investment. We offer Business and Personal loans, it is quick and easy and hence can be availed without any hassle. We do not ask for any collateral or guarantors while approving these loans and hence these loans require minimum documentation. We offer great and competitive interest rates of 2% which do not weigh you down too much. These loans have a comfortable pay-back period. Apply today by contacting us on E-mail: melisaeva9@gmail.com WE DO NOT ASK FOR AN UPFRONT FEE. BEWARE OF SCAMMERS AND ONLINE FRAUD.

  3. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  4. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

  5. From the article's fourth paragraph: "Her work underscores the blurry lines in Russia between the government and businesses . . ." Obviously, the author of this piece doesn't pay much attention to the "blurry lines" between government and businesses that exist in the United States. And I'm not talking only about Trump's alleged conflicts of interest. When lobbyists for major industries (pharmaceutical, petroleum, insurance, etc) have greater access to this country's elected representatives than do everyday individuals (i.e., voters), then I would say that the lines between government and business in the United States are just as blurry, if not more so, than in Russia.

ADVERTISEMENT