TN 29 (10-05)

GN 00306.520 Massachusetts Intestacy Laws

A. A child or father acquires the status of child or parent and child is regarded as legitimate if:

  1. parents intermarry, and

    1. father formally or informally acknowledges the child; or

    2. a court of competent jurisdiction (district, superior, or probate courts) adjudges the alleged father to be the father of the child in an adjudication of paternity. For claims filed on or after 11/27/98, or pending on that date, an adjudication of paternity by a court of competent jurisdiction is not required, and SSA may determine the relationship between the alleged father and the child by applying a clear and convincing evidence standard; or

  2. (I) the alleged father formally or informally acknowledges the child as his child; or

  3. (I) a court of competent jurisdiction (district, superior, or probate courts) adjudges the alleged father to be the father of the child in an adjudication of paternity. For claims filed on or after 11/27/98, or pending on that date, an adjudication of paternity by a court of competent jurisdiction is not required, and SSA may determine the relationship between the alleged father and the child by applying a clear and convincing evidence standard.

Under Massachusetts law, whether the NH informally acknowledged a child is a determination to be made on a case by case basis weighing the probative value of any evidence, oral or written, of acknowledgment against the likelihood of fraud inherent in the particular circumstances.

Evidence considered in adjudications of paternity includes: blood or genetic marker tests and testimony of the relevant parties. Blood or genetic marker tests with a probability of 97.0% or greater will constitute a rebuttable presumption of paternity provided that the petitioner has presented evidence that sexual intercourse occurred between the mother and this individual during the period of time that the child was conceived. Forward to the RCC evidence submitted to rebut the presumption for a determination about whether the evidence excludes the alleged father.

  1. Child Conceived by Artificial Means after NH’s Death

On 01/02/02, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a decision in Woodward v. Barnhart, ruling that in certain limited circumstances, a child resulting from posthumouse reproduction may enjoy the inheritance rights of issue under Massachusetts State law. These limited circumstances are when all the following are met:

  • A genetic relationship has been established between the child claimant and the decedent;

  • The claimant establishes that the decedent affirmatively consented to posthumous conception of such child; and

  • The claimant establishes that the decedent affirmatively consented to posthumous support of such child.

Therefore, develop:

  • Evidence of the genetic relationship between the child and the deceased NH, including any relevant evidence such as fertility clinic records or doctors’ statements related to the collection of the deceased’s sperm and the transfer procedures utilized to inseminate the mother; and

  • Evidence that the decedent affirmatively consented to posthumous conception and support of the child; documents such as (but not restricted to) a will or other writings by the decedent should be gathered, as well as statements from other family members, doctors, and friends.

When collecting statements, please indicate relationship, date, and surrounding circumstances of the statement.

CAUTION: Per GN 00306.001C.1.c., do not issue a determination on any claim for child’s benefits involving posthumous reproduction without submitting the case to the RCC for an opinion per GN 01010.815 ff.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200306520
GN 00306.520 - Massachusetts Intestacy Laws - 03/09/2006
Batch run: 01/27/2009
Rev:03/09/2006