The Status of Children Act brings equal rights under BVI Inheritance Law


Previously, BVI succession rules in intestate estates distinguished between children born in and outside of wedlock, dismissing all inheritance rights of an ‘illegitimate’ child.  The Status of Children Act 2014 (the “Act”) has abolishes this archaic approach in line with the modern world by providing for equality between legitimate and illegitimate children in terms of their legal rights and legal status.

Previously, wherever the word ‘children’ is used in any Will, deed or other instrument, in the absence of a contrary intention, it only referred to ‘legitimate’ children; unless any illegitimate child was specifically named in the instrument or if there were no legitimate children in existence.

The position has now been reversed by the enactment of the Act on 31 October 2014. As such, once paternity of the illegitimate child is admitted or established, the child will be treated in the same manner as a legitimate child under the rules of inheritance notwithstanding the fact that the child might have been born out of wedlock.

However, it should be noted that the Act is not retroactive and the Act will have no effect if the person dies intestate prior to commencement of the Act or should the dispositions made under a Will or codicil already have been executed. Therefore, although the Act is progressive in nature, it is limited in its scope but still represents a significant advancement in the estate planning law in the BVI.

For further information, please contact Nadine Whyte (

This article is general in scope and not intended to be comprehensive. It is not a substitute for legal advice.

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