If you have already written a will or established a trust, your estate plan’s validity could still be impacted or even compromised if you have a child after you’ve created the plan. California’s probate code could facilitate the recognition of a “forced heir,” whether a spouse or a child, depriving other beneficiaries of the inheritance they deserve. While almost any significant life event should serve as a reason for revision, the birth of a child is especially important. The omitted child statute | California Estate Planning Lawyer

The Omitted Child Statute

California legislators have enacted an “omitted child” statute that details the rights of children who were born after a parent or guardian created a will.

Since the Golden State’s probate courts presume that most parents would accord their children an inheritance, children who were born after the execution of a will are treated as if they were unintentionally omitted from the will. In accordance with California’s omitted child laws, the child—whether an adult or a minor—will still be entitled to an inheritance unless certain requirements are met.

Exceptions to California’s Omitted Child Statutes

California’s omitted child statute preserves children’s right to an inheritance unless any of the following conditions are met:

If none of these conditions apply, the omitted child could petition the probate court to receive an inheritance. The amount and extent of the inheritance would be determined in accordance with the intestate provisions of the California Probate Code and could impact other beneficiaries’ rights.

The Necessity of Revising Your Estate Plan

California’s probate code is complex. If you have recently had a child or are expecting to have a child, you should talk to your estate planning attorney about:

  • How your will may need to be structured
  • Why you should update your beneficiary designations
  • The role of insurance policies in estate planning

Even if you have already established a comprehensive and iron-clad estate plan, its integrity could be threatened by the birth of a child, a marriage, or a divorce. 


Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.