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Alternate Reproductive Therapies and Estate Planning

Reproductive therapies continues to advance quickly, and the number of people using them is increasing every year. Reproductive therapies, such as in vitro fertilization and embryo donation, result in about 250,000 births every year. If you plan on using such technology or are considering donating some of your biological material for use with these technologies, there are several estate planning issues you need to consider.

Will children conceived after death be entitled to inherit?

Reproductive therapies can allow people to conceive children after death. For example, many male members of the military being deployed overseas will store their sperm in case they are injured or killed. In such a situation, the wife of the deployed service member can use that material to conceive a child. But if the donor dies before the child is born, does that child inherit?

The answer to this question is not always clear. In 2012, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that children conceived through artificial insemination after the father’s death were not eligible for Social Security survivor benefits because they did not qualify as legal heirs under Florida law. But in other states, the situation might be different.

Should you distinguish between after-born heirs in your estate plan?

All state intestacy laws differ in defining who is a legal heir, but you can always create an estate plan that chooses to distribute inheritances in any way you like. But do you want to leave, for example, an inheritance to a child conceived after you die with reproductive therapies? The answer here isn’t always clear, but you should be ready to think about the question.

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