Paternity Testing on a Deceased Person

Deceased Alleged Father

When the alleged father is deceased, DNA testing is mainly used to obtain Social Security benefits, insurance benefits, to settle an inheritance dispute, or to establish a standing in a wrongful death action. Samples from the deceased are usually obtained from the medical examiner, coroner or other pathologist who may have performed an autopsy, an associated toxicology or medical lab, the funeral home before or after embalming, or even following burial for up to several years. The best sample to obtain is whole blood which is not clotted. Exhumed specimens collected from deep thigh tissue or marrow taken from the large leg bone (femur) will work approximately 75% of the time. The lab needs additional time to process these samples (could be weeks).

An alternative to exhuming the alleged father is to reconstruct his genotype based on surviving family members. The most popular tests are the grand paternity test or the sibling study, described in previous sections.



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CHILD SUPPORT – Very often, the unwed mother of a child desires to establish paternity to ensure that the child receives financial support and because she wants the father involved in the child’s life.

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