Posthumously Conceived Children And Their Uphill Battle For Inheritance Rights

This story from yesterday’s highlights the difficulty faced by children who were conceived after one of their parents dies.

Melissa Amen conceived her 3-year-old daughter, Kayah, seven days after Kayah’s father died of cancer.

Melissa and her husband, Joshua, struggled for two years to have a child before she conceived through intrauterine insemination. Joshua had stored his sperm in a bank in case treatments for his cancer rendered him sterile. They were planning to raise a family together despite his three-year battle with cancer.

The use of assisted reproductive technology, such as in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination, is becoming more widespread among U.S. troops and cancer patients as they are increasingly banking their sperm to prevent a premature death or sterility-inducing injury from allowing them to have children, observers say.

Yet only 11 states recognize the biological relationships of children conceived posthumously: California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

Other states grant inheritance rights to children born after one parent dies only if conceived naturally. And although the Social Security Administration generally oversees benefits, it defers to states when determining parentage and children’s inheritance rights.

After the Social Security Administration denied Melissa’s application seeking survivor benefits for Kayah because she was conceived after the death of her father, Melissa took the issue into federal court.  Iowa is close to changing its law to allow children conceived up to two years after a parent dies to receive inheritance rights and Social Security benefits. The Iowa House passed the bill last month and the Senate approved it this week.

I am unaware of any efforts in Ohio or any other states to accomplish the same worthy goal and, though it may not assist with the granting of federal survivorship benefits, an estate plan drafted by a qualified estate planning attorney in your area will most certainly simplify the apportionment and provisioning of assets for your after-born and after-conceived children.

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