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California residents who are interested in inheritance laws and concerned about ensuring that their children can inherit their estate may be interested to learn about a ruling issued by the West Virginia Supreme Court. The judges ruled in a 3-2 decision that children are unable to inherit from the estate belonging to a biological parent if the parent dies without completing a will and after having their parental rights terminated.

The ruling upheld a decision that was issued by a lower court judge who determined that a daughter was unable to inherit from her father’s estate. The father, who died in 2011, had his parental rights terminated for allegedly sexually abusing her.

According to the judges who ruled in the majority, in such circumstances, the rights of children are not clearly defined by state-level inheritance regulations. There is also no unambiguous support offered by the law to assert that the child should absolutely be able to inherit from a biological parent when placed in those circumstances. They stated that any modifications to state laws that pertain to the issue should be initiated not by legal precedent but by the West Virginia Legislature.

The judges who held the majority opinion expressed their sympathy with the daughter’s circumstances but stated that they are required to follow the law when rendering decisions. They asserted that their ruling accurately represents the intent with which the relevant statutes were created.

An attorney who handles inheritance disputes may litigate to protect the rights of clients who allege that undue influence or fraud was a factor in the drafting of a will. The attorney may file a lawsuit to stop the depletion of an estate by individuals who are engaged in inheritance theft. Advice may be provided on how inheritance law applies to a specific situation.