Assisted Reproductive Technology and Estate Planning

While assisted reproductive technology can be used helpful for timing pregnancy, it can have critical implications in estate planning. If, for example, the donor dies before her child, complications are almost inevitable.

ART: What to Consider When Creating Your Estate Plan

  • If a woman predeceases her child, and she has no living spouse or trusted relatives, who will serve as the child’s guardian?
  • If a woman freezes her eggs but dies before she has children, who is afforded the capacity to determine the eggs’ future use?
  • If a woman freezes a fertilized egg—an embryo—but later separates from a husband or domestic partner, how would issues of child custody, visitation rights, and inheritance be decided?

In California, any person who dies without a will is said to have died intestate. During an intestate succession, a probate court will refer to statutes and legal precedents when determining the rights of potential beneficiaries, including the rights of an heir conceived through assisted reproductive technology.

So, while ART can be used to bring new life into the world when pregnancy might otherwise be impossible, the use of this technology necessitates the creation and execution of a carefully considered estate plan—an estate plan that protects the rights of the donor, and an estate plan which protects the right of the child should the unthinkable ever happen. 

Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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