Implication of ARTs Within New York Inheritance Law

Rarely is there a more interesting circumstance presented an attorney of an estate law practice than a matter implicated with bioethics. Advances in Assisted Reproductive Technologies (“ARTs”) have created a range of reproduction options for infertile individuals. The result is that human conception or artificial insemination (“AI”) in vitro fertilization (“IVF”) and cryopreservation refined by the scientific assisted reproduction process through innovation of new technologies, has created the conditions for new rule elements within law.


ARTs and Statutory (Pro-)Creation

At the heart of the legal debate lies the United States Supreme Court’s interpretation of the fundamental principle of rights to procreation. For example, cryopreservation (cryogenic freezing) is one of the latest technologies incorporating IVF and incorporated in IVF, which allows for storage and preservation of reproductive material. While the technology offers advantages for improving the success rate of IVF, cryopreservation implicates the inheritance laws of U.S. states in its potential for the posthumous conception of children.

What follows within statutory legislation of the use of ARTs at the state level, will inevitably determine application within estate formation. Here we see previously incontestable assumptions within inheritance law such as maternal affiliation, eligibility of children as direct heirs, now subject to reinterpretation due to ownership of frozen reproductive materials (i.e. sperm, ovum (egg), or embryos). Such revision, should it take place, stands to radically alter rules to estate and trust distribution of assets accordingly.


AI Within New York Inheritance Law   

Within New York inheritance law three main issues persist regarding AI technologies and the legal status of the: (1 parent(s); (2 child; and (3) and the reproductive material itself. New York statutory law expressly states the legitimacy of children conceived by AI as part of the rule of intestate succession.


Other inheritance issues arising from AI reproductive repository, however, are not precisely articulated within last will and testament guidelines, or within rules of intestacy (no will), and this could arguably reshape the legal landscape of New York’s estate laws (EPTL 4-1.1). This is especially true perhaps in cases where reproductive technologies, third-party surrogate pregnancy and gestational rights, reproductive assets, and beneficiary rights are implicated.


According to the New York Task Force and the Advisory Committee to the Surrogate’s Court, the plethora of issues connected to the various reproductive technologies. Issues such as “embryo adoption” propose to extend legal consideration into the not so near future should the New York Legislature statutorily address the implications of each AI technology individually within inheritance law.


New York Estate Law Firm

Ettinger Law Firm is a licensed New York attorney practice specializing in estate planning and probate litigation. Contact Ettinger Law Firm to schedule a consultation about an estate or trust law related matter.     

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