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Fertility technology and estate planning

Oklahoma residents who are planning their estate should be aware that recent advances in fertility technology have the potential to affect the future execution of the provisions of their will. Modern science has developed techniques to remove viable eggs from a human ovary and cryogenically preserve them for an indefinite period of time. This may have unexplored effects on the administration of an estate.

There is no theoretical limit as to how long an egg may be stored, but that does not necessarily mean that the law will view a child that is produced from it as anything other than the natural offspring. Many unusual scenarios have already been suggested that would test the intention and the clarity of the law. One example that has been cited is that of a benefactor who has her eggs frozen and then passes away. If the eggs are then fertilized by a third party and then transplanted to a mother surrogate who brings the child to term, then there will be questions as to which families the child's legal parenthood, right to support and right to inherit may come from.

In the face of such fundamental shifts in technology and legal practice, experts advise caution. They emphasize the importance of communicating directly with the possible beneficiaries and making extremely specific provisions in the last will and testament. The court will do its best to execute the wishes of the benefactor if those wishes are made plain.

Estate planning may be made easier by the assistance of an attorney at law. Most people become aware of the legal exigencies of their estate as they encounter them, but the variety of cases that an attorney may have encountered might prepare them for more unusual circumstances and give them the perspective they need to consider a wide variety of options.

Source: Forbes, "How Freezing Eggs Can Affect Your Estate Plan", Joan M. Burda, December 10, 2014

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