Estate Planning and Assisted Reproduction

By: Ann Schneider and Jennifer Hostetter 

Most people do not think these two fields of law relate, but they actually can be interconnected.  And if you have ever gone through any type of assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure or fertility treatment, it is very important to discuss this with your estate planning attorney.  If you are in the process of going through a form of assisted reproductive technology, it may be wise to speak to an estate planning attorney now to prepare documents while you or your spouse are going through these procedures. 
When planning your estate, it is important to plan and discuss what you wish to happen to any stored sperm, eggs or embryos you may have.  The laws governing assistive reproductive technology differ greatly from state to state.  In addition, many states, including Indiana, have yet to address issues concerning the treatment of stored genetic material upon an individual’s death.  Working with an estate planning attorney will allow you to create an estate plan which takes these matters into consideration.   Your estate planning documents can then include direction for what should be done with stored genetic materials upon your death.   Additionally, if you are going through some type of surrogacy, you have the ability to make plans in the event something were to happen to you, your spouse or the surrogate. 
Fertility clinics across the nation have varying agreements and contracts that range from very basic to very thorough. The storage or final disposition of your stored genetic material may have been something you have already addressed with the fertility clinic. Your estate planning attorney should review any agreement you have signed with a fertility clinic to ensure that your estate planning documents will be effective at carrying out your wishes.  
If you are considering, are going through, or have already gone through some type of ART procedure, I encourage you to seek out an estate planning attorney. ART is a vastly growing area of the law and it is important to plan for the future.