Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger are separating, and if they divorce it could be one of the costliest celebrity splits ever, according to a New York Post article.  The couple’s worth has been assessed at between $200 million and $400 million. Of course the lawyers are speculating on the value of the prenuptial agreement after 25 years of marriage and serious philandering.  As an estate planning attorney, I have been thinking about Schwarzenegger’s love child’s right to inheritance.

Traditionally, at common law only legal children were recognized to have rights of inheritance, but the times have changed.  In the early 1970s, a series of Court decisions abolished most common-law disabilities for illegitimate children as being violations of the equal protection clause.  As a result, all of the states have now adopted uniform laws that give the responsibility to provide support and care for a child to both parents, regardless of the parent’s marital status.  These laws give illegitimate as well as adopted and natural children the same right to their parents’ inheritance.  This means that Schwarzenegger’s love child has an equal right to inheritance of his estate.

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