As Mother’s Day approaches, you may wonder, what does a legal column have in common with a Dr. Seuss book?

More than you may think! 

  • Do you remember the Dr. Seuss book “Horton Hatches the Egg”? Horton, an elephant, is asked by Mayzie, a bird, to sit on Mayzie’s egg while Mayzie does a few errands. Well, Mayzie ends up taking off on a permanent vacation to Florida, leaving Horton stranded on the egg. Horton, an elephant of his word, sticks it out through many trials and tribulations, until the egg is hatched. Out comes a creature that is part bird and part elephant. So, who is the mother?
  • Assisted reproductive technology. In 2018, there are many ways to become a mother. Examples include intrauterine insemination, egg and sperm donation, in-vitro fertilization, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, and gamete intrafallopian tube transfers.
  • Keeping track of the players. The genetic mother is the mother whose gamete has been fertilized. The carrying mother is the mother who carries the fertilized gamete (embryo) until delivery. The mother who ends up as the “parent” of the baby, however, might be a third mother who entered into a gestational agreement with the other “mothers.” So, is the mother Horton or Mayzie?
  • How does this relate to estate planning? Your Will and Living Trust (if applicable) should be clear about what you mean when you use terms such as “child,” “grandchild,” “heir,” “descendant,” or “lineal descendant.” You don’t want your family to be arguing about whether Horton or Mayzie is the mother. Clearly defined terms in your estate planning documents almost always will diffuse a disagreement about what was intended.

If you are interested in learning more about the intersection between assisted reproductive technology and estate planning, please visit our website and read our blog for recent posts.  For advice specific to you or your family, please contact the office.  We would be glad to meet with you for a no hassle, no charge initial consultation, no matter how long it lasts.

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