Estate Planning Concerns When Using Assisted Reproductive Technology

The birth of a child is a significant event in every parent’s life, particularly if they have utilized assisted reproductive technology (ART). Using ART necessitates comprehensive financial and estate plans that are uniquely tailored to the needs of your family.

As you continue your journey, we’d like to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about planning for your family.

When should I begin making plans for my child?

Now is a good time from a financial standpoint to begin planning for your child. As you probably already know, the ART process can be costly. Having a proper financial plan can help alleviate some of your concerns throughout the process. Consideration must be given to the cost of food, clothing, shelter, toys, and education when raising a child. Even if you are not expecting a child in the near future, saving money or preparing a budget to cover these costs can put you on the right financial path.

You can create an estate plan for a potential child now and modify it after the birth of a child. Developing an estate plan is not a one-time occurrence. It must adapt to your and your family’s changing circumstances.

What will become of my genetic material after my death?

You or your spouse or partner may store genetic material (e.g., sperm, eggs, embryos) for future use as part of assisted reproductive technology (ART). It is crucial that you review the forms you signed with your doctor or the facility to determine what will happen to genetic material in the event of your death or that of your spouse or partner. Typical options include destroying, donating, and transferring ownership to a named recipient. In many states, courts defer to the contents of the form. Before signing, it is crucial that you understand what it says and agree with the outcome. Additionally, you must know what to do if you change your mind.

What happens if a child is born after the death of a genetic parent? Can the child inherit from the parent who has died?

Using the genetic material of a deceased parent, a child could be born years after a parent’s death due to advances in modern medicine. However, each state’s laws govern the child’s right to inherit from the deceased parent. Variables such as how long after the parent’s death the child was born and whether the deceased parent consented to the use of their genetic material after death can affect the child’s ability to inherit.

Do I really need the assistance of an attorney for estate planning?

While the do-it-yourself options may appear to be less expensive and more convenient than working with an attorney, only an experienced estate planning attorney can ensure that your estate plan is tailored to your specific circumstances. Customized language, as opposed to standard definitions for terms, can reduce confusion regarding who and how you want to receive your money and property.

Although the terms parent and child have commonly understood standard definitions, they may have different meanings in your family. For instance, does the term parent refer to a parent’s biological parent, gestational parent, adopted parent, or spouse? Assuming that a parent is the source of genetic material may cause you to overlook an important individual.

Similarly, the term child may have different meanings depending on the context. Does the term child include biological, adopted, and stepchildren? You may consider someone to be your child, but you must ensure that the individual is properly identified as your child in all legal documents.

Lastly, as ART becomes more prevalent, the definition of the term “descendants” may be affected, not only in your plan but also for other members of your family. Do you want your child’s child conceived through assisted reproductive technology to be considered your grandchild, even if there is no genetic link?

We recognize that your path to parenthood may be arduous and filled with ups and downs. We respect your privacy and strive to create a plan that expresses your wishes in a way that is legally enforceable, protects you and your family, and prevents family conflict. Call us to schedule an appointment where we can tailor a plan to your specific requirements.

750 F Street, Suite 2
Davis, CA 95616

333 University Ave, Suite 200
Sacramento, CA 95825

3017 Douglas Blvd, Ste 300
Roseville, CA 95616

288 Pearl Street
Monterey, CA 93940

San Antonio
18756 Stone Oak Pkwy, Ste 200
San Antonio, TX 78258

We operate on an appointment-only basis other than our Davis office.

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