Recently, Apple and Facebook made the headlines when both companies announced that it is paying the expenses for its female employees to freeze their eggs. Most people do not assume that an announcement like this will affect their estate plan, but if you have a daughter or granddaughter you may want to reconsider that opinion. If either decides to use assisted reproductive techniques and freeze their eggs, you must consider whether you would like to include these potential descendants in your estate plan.
Defining Descendants and Heirs
For estate planning purposes, descendants and heirs are people who are genetically, biologically, or legally related to you. However, with the advent of egg freezing there is a chance that you will have a descendant that is not biologically or genetically related to you, and you must decide whether to include them in your estate.
Regardless of which decision you make about descendants from frozen eggs, if the situation arises in your family it is important to define within your estate documents whether or not you wish to include descendants born using assisted reproductive technology. By defining who you consider to be a descendant and heir you can clearly determine who you wish to inherit your estate.
Tips for Planning with Frozen Eggs
In order to ensure that those you wish to be included or excluded because of assisted reproductive technology are planned for within your estate, consider the following tips to determine how best to plan for the future:
Find out if your daughter or granddaughter is planning or intends to freeze eggs.
This conversation can be awkward, but it is an important talk that needs to be had. Try bringing it up with your female descendants privately, and explain why this talk is important to you.
If freezing may or has occurred, decide how you want to handle the estate plan.
Keep in mind that children and descendants are not entitled to inherit from you, and it is up to you (and your spouse) who will inherit from your estate. If you wish to include a potential heir from a frozen egg you can, and if you do not wish for that heir to inherit they do not have to.
Be specific in your estate planning documents.
It is important in these types of decisions, regardless of your choice, to be specific in the estate planning documents. You do not want someone included or excluded because of a technicality in your estate plan.
Do not settle for boilerplate or generic documents.
Generally speaking, online estate planning forms do not let you change the definitions of children, grandchildren, or heirs. This can make it difficult to make it clear about your intentions for your estate regarding the offspring of frozen eggs. Using an estate planning attorney can ensure that you get the results that you desire.
Be sure to discuss the matter with your estate planning attorney.
Do not expect that your attorney automatically assumes that assisted reproductive technology will or will not play a role in your family and estate planning needs. Make sure that you specifically make your intentions regarding this known to your attorney so that any drafting or revisions can be made accordingly.