Conception after death: It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, but the legal realities of conceiving children after one or more parents are dead are increasingly relevant. The law is clear about estate planning for children who are alive at the time the documents are drafted, but they are not so clear about your estate’s relationship to children conceived after your death.

Who should be concerned with conception after death limitations? Florida couples who have decided to store their eggs, sperm or embryos could benefit from additional legal guidance to make sure that their estate plans are in line with the potential of future births. It is important to note that children born after your death are not immediately included in your will unless you name them as beneficiaries.

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has made determining parenthood even more challenging than before. Genetic parents could be different from adoptive parents. Surrogate mothers are often used to carry children to term with donor eggs and sperm. So, where do the parental rights end for some and begin for others? The law is still struggling to make those decisions.

A seminal May 2012 ruling decided that a man’s twin daughters were eligible to receive his Social Security benefits even though they were conceived with his preserved sperm after his death. The father’s will did not specifically mention the two new daughters. This case was unique because it took place in Florida. In this state, children only receive estate assets if they are named outright in the will.

About one in every hundred births uses ART. It is increasingly important, therefore, for potential parents and children to understand the limitations of existing probate law. If you have questions about your estate plan’s relation to children that could be conceived after your death, consider seeking the advice of a qualified Florida probate attorney.

Luis E. Barreto