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Fertility treatments can make estate planning more complicated

Through wills and trusts, New Jersey families are able to support their children and grandchildren even after they have died. In fact, many people take great pride in the fact that they’re taking care of their families. Although the two are seemingly unrelated, the growing availability of fertility treatment now has a significant impact on estate planning.

Now that fertility treatments are becoming more widely available, people are capable of producing descendants without knowing them, let alone raising them. In fact, these children are sometimes born after their genetic parents have died. Some women also decide to freeze their eggs until they’re ready to raise children; in some cases, the women don’t use the eggs, which can be donated to another set of parents.

The rise in the usage of fertility treatments has implications for people who are setting up wills and trusts. According to the law, there is no difference between children who were produced through these alternative means and those who were raised by their parents. For this reason, some people have began to stipulate in their trust documents that children born more than a set number of years, usually between one and three, after their death are not eligible to receive an inheritance. Also, some people name their children in the will, which excludes any children who may have been created through in vitro fertilization.

It is important to plan for the possibility of an unknown descendant; otherwise, these people could later claim that as your genetic descendants, they’re entitled to a portion of your children and grandchildren’s inheritance. When complicated situations like these arise, it is often helpful to turn to an experienced attorney.

Source: The New York Times, “Fertility Treatments Produce Heirs Their Parents Never Knew,” Paul Sullivan, August 30, 2013

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