This memo is in response to your request for assistance in determining if a child
is entitled to survivor's benefits on the account of a parent whose parental rights
were terminated. We believe that the child here has inheritance rights from his natural
father under Connecticut law and is entitled to survivor's benefits.
The materials you submitted indicate that the wage earner, Joseph O~, is the natural
father of Nicholas, who was born July 20, 1989, and his name appears on Nicholas'
birth certificate. On October 22, 1991, the Connecticut Probate Court issued an order
terminating the parental rights of Joseph O~ with respect to Nicholas. Mr. O~ subsequently
died in Connecticut on March 19, 2001. Julie M~, the mother of Nicholas, filed an
application for survivor's benefits on his behalf on July 9, 2001. The mother stated
in that application that Nicholas has never been adopted by anyone else.
The court order terminating the wage earner's parental rights does not affect the
child's right to inherit from the wage earner as his natural child. Connecticut statutes
define "termination of parental rights" to mean "the complete severance by court order
of the legal relationship, with all its rights and responsibilities, between the child
and the child's parent or parents so that the child is free for adoption except it
shall not affect the right of inheritance of the child or the religious affiliation
of the child." C.G.S.A. § 45a-707(8). Thus, Nicholas would still have inheritance
rights from the wage earner and is eligible for surviving child's benefits.