Journal of Law and Policy


Joshua Hamlet


When a child or adolescent passes away, parents are typically stricken with grief and unable to cope with the devastation. Unfortunately, the emotional toll is not the only challenge parents face. Some are forced to handle legal battles regarding the administration of their deceased child’s estate. Since the majority of children do not have a will, state adoptions of the Uniform Probate Code dictate what happens to the child’s estate during these tragedies. But what happens in the event these parents abused or neglected their child while that child was still living? While the Uniform Probate Code advises that these malevolent parents should be blocked from inheriting, it does not always work out that way in reality. Furthermore, parents from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to abuse their children—children who, in turn, die intestate, creating a never-ending cycle of abuse and legislatively-driven inheritance which fails to account for deaths following lives marked by parental abuse or neglect. It is time to revise the Uniform Probate Code to protect children who die intestate so that abusive or neglectful parents will no longer be rewarded after mistreatment.