Moses and Singer LLP Attorney Carole Bass Explains How Assisted Reproductive Technology Impacts Estate Planning

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Can a child conceived after the death of a genetic parent claim inheritance rights? Carole Bass speaks to family lawyers at a major annual meeting.

Partner, Moses & Singer LLP

Carole M. Bass, Partner Moses & Singer LLP

New biological advances can directly impact family estate planning.

Carole M. Bass, a partner in the Trusts & Estates practice at Moses & Singer LLP, spoke on a panel on "Life, Death and ART" at the 2013 Joint Meeting of the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys and the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, held in Charleston, SC from Nov. 10 to Nov. 12. Approximately 270 professionals attended the conference.

The conference, entitled "The World of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART): A Global Approach to Family Formation in the United States & Abroad," covered the legal and ethical implications of family planning technologies, such as egg banking, embryo donation and surrogacy.

Carole focused on the disposition of banked reproductive material at death, including the ability to bequeath such material and control its use. She further discussed the inheritance rights of children conceived after the death of a genetic parent (posthumously conceived children). The use of reproductive technology is steadily increasing and the law has not kept pace with technology.

“In terms of disposition the Decedent's intent is key,” advised Carole. “It is critical to make that intent clear in clinic forms and in estate planning documents. Since an individual's intent can change over time and can be affected by life events, it is important to revisit clinic contracts from time to time.” In addition, proper estate planning is necessary to carry out intent as to inheritance by posthumously conceived children since statutory guidance is lacking in most states. “Even in states that have addressed the issue, statutory defaults are often inadequate to carry out an individual's wishes.” For LGBT families there are additional concerns because of differing state laws with respect to parentage and marriage recognition.

Carole suggests that any family or individual utilizing reproductive technology or preserving genetic material for future use consult with an estate planner. "Through proper estate planning the status of children born of ART both during and after a parent's death can be addressed, as can the ownership, control and disposition of preserved reproductive material."


Moses & Singer LLP, a law firm founded in 1919, serves the diversified legal needs of prominent industries, families and individuals in New York and worldwide. This press release is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship between the sender and the receiver.

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