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A brave new world of inheritance issues

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2014 | Estate Administration And Probate |

People in California know that science has contributed to our lives in ways that never seemed possible only a generation ago. In particular, new advances in human health and reproduction science have made conception through alternative means relatively common in society. Statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have shown that the use of assisted reproduction technology has far more than doubled in the last 10 years.

For all these wonderful new procedures, however, there are certainly pitfalls as well. One major pitfall is the fact that the law simply can’t seem to keep up with the explosive progress of science over the last decade. For example, every frozen embryo and sperm cell carries with it the potential for life, and the potential to challenge the law’s traditional concept of conception.

So what happens when a child is born of the genetic materials that belonged to someone who is already deceased? Thus far, most court cases on this issue have been highly controversial, and have been decided largely upon the details of the state’s laws regarding inheritance and estates. While some states require a child to be living at the time of the parent’s death in order to inherit, science is challenging the utility and wisdom of such laws. However, with the use of a properly fashioned trust, donors/parents may be able to avoid probate and leave inheritance to their heirs who have yet to be born.

This is no longer the stuff of science fiction, but a very real concern for many people across California. With every court case the law evolves, which is why California residents should get the right information about estate planning options.

Source:, “Inheritance Issues Abound for Children Conceived After Death,” Amy F. Altman, March 10, 2014

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