Many Danbury residents are excited to embrace new technologies and medical advances, which can improve the quality of life and open new opportunities. The same advances can present challenges when the law has not caught up, however, including in the estate planning arena.
For example, a court in Michigan recently held children of a deceased man who were conceived with the man's frozen sperm cannot be considered his heirs. The kids were conceived by artificial insemination after the man had died. Therefore, the court concluded the children could not be the man's heirs because they were not alive when the man died, nor was the woman pregnant at that time.
While the case was in relation to Social Security benefits, it has some important lessons when it comes to the distribution of assets in a person's will. Typically, state inheritance laws follow the course charted above, in that children are required to be born within three hundred days of the parent's death. In other words, in order to inherit from a parent's estate, the child must be conceived before the parent dies.
Many such laws were written at a time when technology did not allow for a child to be conceived after one parent died. Accordingly, with the new technology, an update may be appropriate. On the other hand, the laws provide for efficiency in allowing for a court to distribute the assets of the estate without wondering what potential heirs may remain.
Ultimately, if individuals store gametes or embryos, they should specifically provide for their intentions in their estate plan. Thus, individuals should state whether they intend for the later-conceived child to inherit as heirs of the estate.
Source: Connecticut Post, "Court says kids aren't heirs in frozen sperm case," Dec. 21, 2012