Afterborn Child Causes Confusion In Delaware Estate

The estate of boxing promoter Ronald "Butch" Lewis has raised a number of issues that a local law school professor has called "a great final exam question". As reported in Delaware Online, claims for child support must be filed against an estate within eight months of a person's death. Lewis' child, however, was not born until nine months following his death, the child support claim having been made just eight days after his paternity was established. 

The resolution of the claim is a true mixed bag. The Delaware court applied the law as it appears on the books and denied the child support claim, noting that the mother could have avoided the situation by filing a contingent claim prior to her daughter's birth.

For the baby , identified in papers as "AL", however, there appears to be a good financial outcome because she would be entitled to a substantial portion of her father's $8.5 million estate, sharing equally with his adult children.

Procedure for the filing and prosecution of estate claims differs widely from state to state. While your lawblogger is not aware of a similar provision in New York governing this particular set of facts, suffice to say that where an unusual situation presents itself upon a person's death, it is necessary to ascertain all relevant and necessary procedures which will be needed at the outset and to set up a schedule insuring that things will be properly and promptly attended to. It is important to realize that time is definitely not your friend. While it borders on offensive when a lawyer is called before the body has cooled in the grave, real damage can occur when one waits an extraordinary long time to contact counsel and to bring on a proceeding to settle a loved one's affairs.

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