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Rise of In Vitro Offspring Ignites Question of Rightful Heirs
When Heidi Sanders, 31, was facing cervical cancer in July 2008 she was concerned she wouldn’t be able to have children in the future, so she had 15 of her eggs and 14 embryos frozen.
“It was a huge source of comfort for me while I was going through treatment that a part of me might survive if I could not,” said Sanders, a gallery director in Manhattan.
Sanders told her boyfriend -- now husband -- and parents that she wanted them to try and use her genetic material to conceive a child if she died.
Most states don’t have laws governing the inheritance rights of children conceived after a parent dies even as the use of assisted reproductive technologies has doubled in the U.S. over the last decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
“There are situations where it’s not so clear that a person would have wanted to be deemed a parent after death,” said Laura Twomey, who specializes in estate planning and is a partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP in New York. Questions also arise over whether posthumously conceived children may benefit from a relative’s trust: “Is that what Grandma would have wanted?” Twomey said.