Apparently, an illegitimate child can’t. The Health and Safety Code §711.004 allows a district court to order an exhumation if requested by certain people including the spouse or the children. That section may not apply to illegitimate children unless money is involved.
In a case decided in 2010, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that a woman who claimed that she was the illegitimate child of a man could not have his body exhumed to test his DNA. The woman asked for the exhumation more than four years after the man’s estate had been closed. The Court ruled that the four year statute of limitations applies to making heirship claims. The Court said that because she could not claim part of his estate since more than four years had passed, she did not have a “justiciable interest” in the exhumation of his body for DNA testing. 04-0608.
Pearls of wisdom: Apparently, whether you have a father or not is unimportant. You have a “justiciable interest” only if it will lead to money, not peace of mind! In fairness to the Court, the woman was making a claim for her inheritance which the Court ruled was barred. But the broad language of the decision seems to make exhumation for DNA testing a proposition based on money alone.
Update 2013: The Texas legislature passed legislation in 2013 that will overrule the part of this decision that limits the time to contest your heirship to four years. Since this decision denies exhumation based on the limitation period, which has now been removed, this decision may no longer be valid. EC 202.0025.
Copyright by Robert Ray a Texas inheritance attorney. The foregoing information is general in nature and does not apply to every fact situation. If you are concerned about inheritance laws, inheritance rights, have a family inheritance dispute, a property dispute or want information about contesting a will and need an inheritance lawyer, we can help. Please go to our main site www.texasinheritance.com and use the contact form to contact us today. We are Texas inheritance lawyers and would love to learn about your case and there is no fee for the initial consultation.