Parent does not need to be blood, biological parent of child to inherit if child dies without will - judge
Pretoria - A parent does not in the strict sense of the word need to be the blood and biological parent of a child to inherit if the child dies intestate (without a will).
This was the finding of the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, in ordering that the mother and grandmother of a 5-year-old boy inherit the millions left in his estate.
Little Mphilo Deniso died in 2018, a few days after the court terminated the parenthood of his father. This followed an application by his grandmother for both his parents to forfeit their parenthood responsibilities for the little boy, who was born with cerebral palsy.
But the court decided at the time to give the mother a chance to prove herself. This was despite the grandmother mostly taking on the parental responsibilities. The court at the time ordered both the mother and granny be given full parental responsibilities.
The father, who did not want anything to do with the child when he turned six months, had his parental responsibilities terminated.
The executor of Mphilo’s estate now turned to court for guidance as to who should inherit the R15 million left in the child’s estate following an order for health authorities to pay R21m in damages. This was after it was found that nursing staff at a hospital were negligent during his birth, which left him with severe brain damage.
As there was no will, the executor asked Judge Jody Kollapen whether the parents should inherit it all. The father also demanded his share. He conceded that his parental responsibilities and rights were terminated, but suggested his obligation to maintain Mphilo remained intact and that the 2018 court order did not divest him of all his rights as a parent. It was argued that intestate succession was “blind to the worthiness of individual heirs”.The father suggested that, as parents, he and his wife should inherit the millions in equal shares.
The court said while the man remained the biological father of Mphilo, he never became a parent in any other sense. He never acquired parental responsibilities or rights in terms of the Children’s Act, and he never contributed to his upbringing, as he severed his links with the child when he was six months due to his disability.
Judge Kollapen ordered the father will not share in the millions. As the mother shared full parental responsibilities with the granny, she should inherit. The granny should also benefit, due to the time, love and sacrifices she made in looking after him. The judge ordered the granny and mother to equally share in the inheritance.