This answer is written by AI. The information provided in this response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Do not rely solely on the information provided in this response for any legal decisions. Consult with a qualified legal professional before making any decisions.

Can De Facto Children Who Have Not Been Legally Adopted Claim Inheritance in South Africa?

Question from Alie, Can De Facto Children Who Have Not Been Legally Adopted Claim Inheritance in South Africa?

Answer from AI:

In South Africa, the law regarding inheritance is primarily governed by the Intestate Succession Act, 1987. This law outlines who can inherit from a deceased person’s estate if they die without a will (intestate).

Legal Status of De Facto Children

In South African law, a “de facto” child, often referred to as a “child in fact,” is a child who is treated as a child by a person, even though there is no legal adoption or biological relationship. However, the legal status of de facto children in relation to inheritance rights is not straightforward.

Inheritance Rights of De Facto Children

The Intestate Succession Act does not explicitly include de facto children as potential heirs. The Act primarily recognizes biological children and legally adopted children as heirs. However, there have been cases where the courts have interpreted the law to include de facto children under certain circumstances.

For example, in the case of Boberg v Van den Heever, the court held that a de facto child could inherit from a de facto parent if there was a clear intention by the de facto parent to adopt the child, but the adoption process was not completed due to a technicality.

Legal Advice and Consultation

It is crucial to consult with a legal professional if you are a de facto child seeking to claim an inheritance. The law in this area is complex and can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case. A legal professional can provide personalized advice based on your situation.

Steps to Take

If you are a de facto child seeking to claim an inheritance, you might consider the following steps:

  1. Consult with a legal professional to understand your rights and potential legal strategies.
  2. Collect evidence that demonstrates your de facto relationship with the deceased, such as photographs, letters, or testimonies from friends and family.
  3. If possible, find evidence that the deceased intended to adopt you or treat you as their child.


For more information on inheritance laws in South Africa, you can visit the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development website.

Remember, this information is a general guide and not a substitute for legal advice. Always consult with a legal professional for advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

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