New York Reforms Law on Establishing Paternity for Inheritance Purposes

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New York State Governor David A. Paterson has signed into law a bill that allows paternity to be established for inheritance purposes by genetic marker test.  The text of the bill is here.  The Governor’s press release is here.

The Surrogate’s Court Advisory Committee to the Chief Administrative Judge of the Courts of the State of New York recommended the change in its January 2009 report (here).

Appellate courts in New York were previously split on whether genetic testing had to be performed during the father’s lifetime (Matter of Janis, 157 Misc. 2d 999 [NY Co. 1993], aff’d 210 AD2d 620 [1st Dept 1994], requiring testing during life), or could be performed through tests after the purported father’s death (Matter of  Sandler, 160 Misc 2d 955 [NY Co. 1994]; Matter of Nasert, 192 Misc 2d [Richmond Co. 2002], allowing post-death testing of relatives).  A case in New York’s Second Judicial Department, Matter of Poldrugovaz, 50 AD3d 117 [2d Dept 2008]) had muddied the water, providing that a genetic marker test functioned as “clear and convincing evidence” as long as there was some lifetime (but not necessarily the statutorily-requred “open and notorious”) acknowledgment of parentage by the father.

In summary, the law brings clarity to New York’s estates law and will make it easier for nonmarital children to share in their fathers’ estates.

-Bridget Crawford

(H/T Bill LaPiana)

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