Effective October 1, 2011, the Nevada Legislature has amended the definition of the “parent-child relationship.” Under NRS 128.015, the “parent-child relationship” was previously defined as including “all rights, privileges and obligations existing between the parent and child, including the rights of inheritance.”
Generally, if a parent is unfit to raise his or her child, either the state of Nevada or a third party can seek to terminate that parent’s legal rights to that child. Similarly, a parent can voluntarily relinquish his or her rights to a child by signing certain documents. When a parent’s rights to a child are legally severed, either by termination or by voluntary relinquishment, that parent is no longer responsible for financially supporting the child (i.e. paying monthly child support), and the child no longer stands to inherit from that parent. Further, if both parents’ rights are severed, all of a child’s legal ties with any siblings are severed. For all intents and purposes, the parent and the child no longer have any legal relationship with one another and the Court considers the parent a “stranger” to the child.
The Nevada Legislature’s recent change to the definition of “parent-child relationship” removes the language that the relationship “includes the rights to inheritance.” Section 2 of NRS 128.015 adds the provision that “the termination of parental rights pursuant to this section does not terminate the right of a child to inherit from his or her parents, except that the right to inherit terminates if the child is adopted…” Therefore, under the amended version of NRS 128.015, if a District Court terminates a parent’s rights, or if a parent voluntarily relinquishes his or her rights, that child can still inherit through that parent until that child is adopted. This is especially beneficial to children whose parents’ rights are terminated but who remain in foster care and will likely never be adopted. This is also beneficial to single parents who have terminated the rights of their child’s father or mother but who have never re-married or have never allowed their child to be adopted by a step-parent.