Inheritance Rights of Daughter of a Woman Married to Another Man

In Estate of Cornelious (1984) 35 Cal. 3d 461 [198 Cal. Rptr. 543, 674 P.2d 245] a woman who claimed to be the decedent's daughter came forward in a probate proceeding seeking succession to the dead man's estate. Because she was the daughter of a woman married to another man, the conclusive presumption operated to prevent her from presenting proof of the decedent's paternity, so she argued that the conclusive presumption was an unconstitutional denial of due process. ( Id. at p. 463.) Again the high court engaged in a balancing process, but this time the claimant lost because her "private interests" were not as weighty as the state's. Specifically, the claimant had no possibility of an "ongoing relationship" with her father (he was now dead) and had but "financial considerations." ( Id. at p. 467.) These "equities were simply not in the same class as those of the fathers in Stanley v. Illinois (1972) and In re Lisa R. (1975)." (Ibid.) By contrast, the state's interests in promoting legitimacy were substantial. After all, the claimant's ostensible married father had a "familial relationship" with her and died thinking he was her father. (Ibid.)