Freezing the Heir Apparent: A Dialogue on Postmortem Conception, Parental Responsibility and Inheritance
New England Law | Boston
Houston Law Review, Vol. 33, P. 967, 1996
In this article, Professor Chester examines some of the legal and social issues relating to the conception of a child through artificial insemination using frozen sperm from the child's dead father. Among other things, he argues that the laws should allow those so conceived to inherit property via will or intestacy from their father, just as would traditionally-conceived children. He also argues that pretermitted child statutes should be interpreted to include as takers those posthumously-conceived children not mentioned in the will of a father dying testate.
Thus, in general, Chester is arguing for financial responsibility to be imposed on the estate of a father who has not taken legal steps to shift such responsibility. In the case of the anonymous sperm donor who has made an election never to be considered a father, Chester asks for some financial accountability on the part of the woman using his sperm.
In addition to addressing these and related issues, Professor Chester reviews various state statutes which bear on them, as well as cases relevant to deciding whether there is a constitutional right to direct how one's sperm will pass at death. He concludes that allowing inheritance by a posthumously-conceived child would be a good thing; for example, it would help strengthen the concept of family.
Date posted: July 26, 2000