The world moves fast these days. Technological advances affect practically every facet of modern life, from the food we eat to our entertainment choices to how we communicate. Advances in the medical field have led to longer, healthier lives for many, and also to certain couples being able to have children when they otherwise couldn’t. Sperm and egg “banks” often help make this possible. For people with certain medical conditions, or going through certain treatments, freezing of genetic material may be the only way they have to conceive a child. And, while most people wish to see their children grow and be there for them, in some circumstances, this technology has led to children being born long after a parent’s death.
Prospective parents who have taken advantage of the ability to freeze gametes or embryos may wish to consider planning for children who may not be born before the parent dies. In the aftermath of a loved one’s death, a romantic partner who has the option may decide to have a child so as to retain a connection to the deceased. In these cases, there may be an heir created who was not present during a parent’s lifetime.
Not surprisingly, this can lead to many complications when it comes time for distributing the assets. With legal documents such as a will or trust instrument, people with banked genetic material can benefit their family by considering the possibilities for providing for any posthumous children who might occur, and what is to be done with said genetic material after death.
When creating an estate plan, knowing what the law requires, and the restrictions placed on possible inheritance is important. For example, under Florida law, unlike many states, a baby must be born within 36 months of the death of its parent to claim inheritance rights. When deciding how to apportion one’s estate, it may be advisable to understand the legal ramifications of including a disposition of any surviving genetic material and progeny that may result.
Source: Market Watch, “Your frozen sperm could inherit your estate,” Matthew Heimer, May 30, 2014