Do You Need to Consider Assisted Reproduction in Your Estate Planning?
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is generally understood to include any treatment intended to relieve the burden of infertility for patients. Treatment methods involve handling the sperm, the egg, or both, outside the body and returning or introducing the embryo, or its components, to a woman's uterus. Both embryos and gametes (sperm and eggs) may be frozen and preserved for later use.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of Assisted Reproductive Technology has doubled over the last decade. Interestingly, the CDC statistics do not include treatments in which only sperm are handled (i.e., intrauterine—or artificial—insemination) or procedures in which a woman takes medicine only to stimulate egg production without the intention of having eggs retrieved. This means statistics are understated for the growth of all infertility treatments in use today.
Will you store sperm, eggs, or embryos for future use?
In an estate planning context, ART can produce complicated inheritance scenarios. For instance, cryogenic technology can preserve eggs, sperm and embryos beyond an intended parent's lifetime. This means a child could be born long after an intended mom or dad's estate has been distributed to then-living heirs. Would the after-born child not be entitled to a portion of the intended parent's estate?
Texas law addresses this issue
Under Texas law, if a spouse dies before the placement of eggs, sperm or embryos, the deceased spouse is not considered the parent of the resulting child unless the deceased spouse expressly consented to being the child's parent in the event assisted reproduction were to occur after death. A licensed physician must maintain the consent document as part of the intended parent's file.
If you participate in ART and intend for your future children to be entitled to a portion of your estate if you die before they are born, you should not only leave a valid consent on file with your doctor, you should also modify your estate plan to accommodate the possibility of future children.
Arrange a meeting to learn how your estate plan can accommodate future children
If you are considering assisted reproductive technology, make it a priority to modify your estate plan to accommodate future children in the event something happens to you. Our experienced estate planning and probate litigation lawyers explain the law and help you develop comprehensive, flexible estate plans in Texas. Contact an experienced Bryan, Texas attorney at Peterson Law Group today at 979-703-7014.