Preserving genetic material can lead to inheritance questions

Posted by Angela Holliday Hansen Esq. | Oct 09, 2014 | 0 Comments

These days, parents in Maryland who need help conceiving a child have options. For example, a woman may freeze some of her eggs, to potentially be used for in vitro fertilization in the future. This brings up an interesting quandary when it comes to estate planning: how do estate planning laws across the nation treat unfertilized eggs and other genetic material?

As with many laws, the laws in these situations vary from state to state. In some states, fertilized eggs and other genetic material that havelead to conception and birth are considered legally distinct from unfertilized eggs and other unused genetic material at the time of a person's death. Many states now recognize that, after a parent's death, a child born up to nine months later can legally be considered an heir. However, only a few states recognize children who are conceived using one's genetic material after that person has died as legalĀ heirs.

Questions that remain regard the inheritance rights of children conceived after a person's death. The answers to this question can be important to parents, siblings and even grandparents. Since the laws regarding these situations are murky, making one's intentions known in an estate planning document may be a good idea.

Some experts believe trusts are more useful than wills in such situations. Wills have to go through probate, in which a person's estate must be distributed within a certain number of years. Trusts allow the individual to decide for themselves how many years after their death a child of their blood can inherit. Trusts can also indicate that if such a birth doesn't occur, the estate can be passed on equally to the deceased's surviving children. In addition, trusts can determine what is to be done with one's genetic material after their death. For example, some individuals may want their genetic material to be destroyed, while others want to keep it intact and passed on to their partner.

As this shows, having a clearly defined estate plan is important. The failure to do so can lead to problems later on, including lawsuits. Carefully addressing the situation can save a lot of confusion when it comes to determining who can be a person's proper heirs and beneficiaries.

About the Author

Angela Holliday Hansen Esq.

Angela Holliday Hansen, Esq., is a former big firm corporate attorney who now practices family law in Rockville Maryland. Ms. Hansen oversees complex estate administration and drafts...

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Suite 106

Rockville, MD 20850
301-690-0383
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri: 09:00am - 05:00pm

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