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Legitimated Children

Excerpted from "Social Security Handbook". See the up-to-date, official Social Security Handbook at

327. Legitimated Children

327.1 How does a child born out of wedlock acquire inheritance rights?

A child born out of wedlock may inherit the intestate personal property of the natural father if the child is "legitimated" (given the status of a legitimate child) under State law by performance of specific acts, e.g., the natural father's marriage to the child's natural mother.

In some States, a child may acquire inheritance rights without being legitimated only if certain acts prescribed by State law are performed; for example, acknowledgment of paternity of the child.

327.2 What is the effective date of legitimation?

The effective date of legitimation of a child may be important in determining when a child becomes entitled to Social Security benefits. In most States, a child legitimated after birth is considered legitimate from birth. In other States, such a child is legitimate only from the date of the legitimating act.

Last Revised: Jun. 30, 2004

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