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Trimble v. Gordon
United States Supreme Court
430 U.S. 762 (1977)
Under Section 12 of the Illinois Probate Act, children of unwed parents, also known as illegitimate children, may only inherit intestate from their mother. If an illegitimate child’s father dies without a will and his estate is distributed intestate, the child may not receive any inheritance. The only exception to this is if the child’s parents get married after the child is born. A child of married parents has no similar restriction. Jessie Trimble and Sherman Gordon were not married and had a daughter. Gordon lived with his daughter for four years, openly acknowledged his paternity, and provided support under a paternity order from an Illinois court. Gordon died intestate, and the probate court decided that Gordon’s daughter could not inherit any of Gordon’s estate. Gordon’s daughter would have inherited a vehicle worth $2,500 if she were allowed to inherit.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Powell, J.)
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