Estate of Brewer v. Brewer, 168 S.W.3d 135 (Mo. App. W.D. 2005)

Factual Background:

Illegitimate daughter of testator sought a share of the testator’s estate as an omitted child.  A paternity test proved testator was Petitioner’s father.  He paid ordered child support, but provided her no other support.  He did not develop any parental relationship with her and had minimal contact with her.


Daughter was not entitled to an intestate share as an omitted child under §474.240 because she had not been recognized by her father as his child.

On Appeal:

Reversed and remanded.  Court held that evidence supported finding that testator, during his lifetime, had “recognized” petitioner as his child, and thus daughter was entitled to a share of testator’s estate as an omitted child.

Sole issue on appeal was the meaning of the term “recognize” in §474.240, which addresses inheritance rights for children born after execution of a testator’s will.  Subsection 3 of §474.240 provides that the illegitimate child is entitled to the above-mentioned intestate share of the decedent’s estate if the decedent recognized the child as his, either in the will or while the testator was alive.  The subsection provides “an illegitimate child is not a child of a male testator, for the purposes of this section, unless the testator, during his lifetime or in the will, recognized that the child was his.”

Court found that the word “recognize” does not refer to the qualitative relationship between the father and child, but rather whether the father recognized that the child was biologically his during his lifetime.