What happens when a self-made millionaire leaves most of his fortune to his son, only for a paternity test to reveal there was no biological relation between the two men? Elis Gosta Hjukstrom died of cancer in 2017 at the age of 87, leaving a Canadian import and distribution business and a Swedish family estate. He bequeathed those assets, worth around $14 million, to his “son” and Swedish resident Kenth Lundback. Hjukstrom’s extended family in Sweden insisted on a paternity test and discovered that the two are not related at all. In fact, another man is named as Lundback on his birth certificate.
The case is expected to go to trial in 2020 in Canada. Had Hjukstrom been a Florida resident at the time of his death, this would still be a mess!
Being named a father on a birth certificate isn’t always adequate proof to a court that the named man is the father. In Florida, a father’s paternity rights are a factor of whether or not the father was married to the child’s mother at the time of the child’s birth. The Florida Supreme Court, in August of 2018 created a new paternity law to settle whether a biological father is prohibited from establishing his parental rights to his child if the child was born to a married woman.
Florida law presumes that the husband of the biological mother of a child is the child’s legal father and this presumption is one of the strongest rebuttable presumptions known to law. Based on the child’s interest in legitimacy and the public policy of protecting the welfare of the child, the biological father can lack standing to assert his paternal rights based on the presumption of legitimacy of a child born to an intact marriage.
It’s unclear whether Kenth Lundback’s mother was married when she gave birth to Lundback, but the trial is sure to be interesting.