Woman entitled to inherit estate, judges affirm

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a woman was the sole heir of an estate as the only daughter, finding there was sufficient evidence for the claim and denying the deceased man’s sisters’ request for a DNA test.

Lloyd Dyer died intestate on July 10, 2014. On July 28, Kimberly Skinner, who claimed to be his daughter, and Dyer’s sisters, Betty Thurman and Carolyn Duncan, filed competing petitions for issuance of letters of administration of his estate. On Aug. 13, the sisters filed a petition to determine heirship and in November filed a petition for genetic testing. The trial court denied the petition for genetic testing and found Skinner was the sole heir. The sisters appealed.

Skinner’s birth certificate does not list a father, and Skinner’s mother Linda Adams and Dyer were married six years after Skinner’s birth. They lived together with Adams’ son Greg and Dyer acknowledged Skinner as his daughter to family members on at least one occasion. When she was 15, Dyer executed two affidavits attesting he was her father and requesting he be placed as her father on Skinner’s birth certificate. When Dyer and Adams were divorced, she said there were no children born of their marriage.

The COA said the affidavits, the fact Skinner and Dyer lived together and that Dyer introduced her as his daughter were more than enough evidence to prove that Skinner was Dyer’s daughter. The sisters’ attempts to discount the evidence are asking the COA to reweigh the evidence, which the court will not do.

The COA also said Skinner is not estopped by anything that transpired in the divorce proceedings because the issue of paternity was not fully litigated, if at all. Therefore Skinner is entitled to inherit from Dyer.

Also, the COA said the issue of a DNA test would be irrelevant because heirship has already been established through the evidence.

The case is Betty Thurman and Carolyn Duncan v. Kimberly L. Skinner, 73A04-1510-ES-1678.

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