The start of a surrogacy can be a whirlwind, filled with excitement and emotion. The growth in the relationship between the surrogate, the intended parents, and even their families can be a very precious time, as a new, beautiful life is about to enter the world!
Estate planning during this time can seem overwhelming to both surrogates and intended parents in the midst of all this excitement. However, a surrogacy journey is a prime time to create a new estate plan or update your existing one, both for intended parents hoping to welcome a new family member and surrogates who will want to protect their family members, as well.
Intended ParentsMany Surrogacy/Gestational Carrier agreements will prompt intended parents to have an Estate Plan in place prior to their surrogate becoming pregnant. If the intended parents were to pass away during the pregnancy, their Will or Trust would act as an agent to fulfilling their contract with the surrogate and providing for the care of any children born as a result of the surrogate pregnancy.
An Estate Plan for the Intended Parent(s) should name back-up guardians for the baby. If guardians are not named within a legal document prior to the Intended Parents death or incapacity, a guardianship proceeding would be held where a judge would determine the baby’s guardian. Guardianship cases can be extremely expensive, stressful, and time-consuming, especially considering parentage proceedings for surrogacy in Virginia, if multiple people come forward to parent the child in the Intended Parents absence, or if there is any disagreement.
A Will or Trust should also authorize an Executor or Trustee to fulfill the Intended Parent’(s) contractual obligations to the surrogate should they die or become incapacitated. This includes, but is not limited to, financial and legal items within the contract. A well-drafted and comprehensive estate plan can alleviate stress, expenses, and save time for everyone and is less expensive than petitioning a court and hiring attorneys later down the road.
Surrogates & Gestational CarriersAs a surrogate, you will be partially responsible for helping to create another life for another family. If there were to be an accident that occurs leaving you on life support while pregnant, the intended parents will likely want to recommend you stay on life support if the pregnancy is still viable. Your spouse and loved ones will of course be part of this decision, but it is important to outline your family’s wishes as well as the wishes of the Intend Family in a legal document such as a living will or an advance healthcare directive. It is suggested to have these documents to be in place before becoming pregnant, at the time your surrogacy contract is written and prior to any medical procedures.
Advance healthcare directives and/or Living Wills can nominate an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make these important decisions for yourself. They can also outline specific instructions regarding life support and special considerations for if you suffer brain death while pregnant.
Get Started TodayTake the time create a quality estate plan for your family, whether it be as an Intended Parent or a Gestational Carrier. Many surrogacy agreements have deadlines and usually all parties are eager to get to the pregnancy part of a surrogacy journey, but taking the time to tailor your estate plan to your specific goals is important and worth spending time on in the long run.
Alperin Law is proud to have Attorney Lindsay Frederick on staff, who is not only well-versed and experienced in Assisted Reproductive Law and Gestational Carrier Agreements, but is also one of our preferred Estate Planning Attorneys here at the firm. If you are interested in pursuing surrogacy, either as an Intended Parent or Gestational Carrier, and you are considering Estate Planning for your family, please contact us as soon as possible – we will be happy to assist you and your family.
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If you need to speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer please contact us online or call our Virginia Beach office directly at 757.490.3500 to schedule your free consultation. We have offices throughout Virginia including Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk and Suffolk.