Artificial Insemination Twins Won't Get Dad's Inheritance

There are many special cases in probate and this one is no exception. Yet after a lot of debate, the Supreme Court ruled on May 21st, 2012, that the twin boys of a father who passed away will not receive his Social Security survivor benefits. The twins were conceived after his passing through artificial insemination. According to the Huffington Post, the father, R.C. passed away from esophageal cancer 18 months before his children were born. His wife conceived the babies with his frozen sperm and applied for survivor benefits on the twins' behalf. She was rejected by the Social Security Administration. According to her rejection statement, the Administration declared that the twins had to be conceived when their father was alive in order to qualify.

A federal judge agreed with the situation. He said that the children had to qualify as R.C.'s before he passed away, or legally qualify as his children under the state inheritance laws of Florida. The laws expressly state that children conceived posthumously are not allowed to inherit unless they are named in the decedent's will. While R.C. left a will behind, it did not mention the two unborn twins. Instead, it simply listed R.C.'s wife, son, and two children from his previous marriage. The estate will be divided among these parties.

R.C.'s widow decided to take this ruling to the state Court of Appeals in New Jersey, where they overturned the ruling. She argued that the case should be heard there because even though she conceived the children in Florida she moved to New Jersey while pregnant. The laws in New Jersey are very different from those in Florida, and she hoped that the changes would help her case. The court said that the twins were clearly the biological children of R.C. and deserved to benefit from the Social Security.

Yet two other appeals courts have ruled the opposite in similar cases, saying that if the children weren't conceived during their father's lifetime they can't count as legitimate heirs. Because of this, the Supreme Court took up the decision and declared that the twins don't get anything. The court declared that Social Security survivor benefits are meant to aid those people who relied on the decedent for financial support during his lifetime. Because the twins weren't born yet, there's no way that they could rely on their father's income and aid.

The judge who decided the case sympathized with the widowed mother of R.C.'s twins. In fact, he called the entire fiasco tragic, but said that the law Congress enacted calls for this woman to revoke her application for child insurance benefits. This is because they can't replace the state intestacy law that explicitly states that children conceived after their parent's death aren't legally entitled to survival benefits. Whenever a unique situation like this one arises, it is best to get a lawyer involved. Every state has different rulings on these sorts of situations, and one court may be more generous than another. In fact, some states don't even have statutes concerning children born posthumously, since the situation is relatively rare.

If you have any questions about an artificial insemination child and whether or not he or she is entitled to Social Security survival benefits or another form of inheritance, then talk to an attorney. If the children are included in a will, then they will certainly inherit, just as their parent wished. But if the decedent died intestate, then the children will have to be evaluated on a case by case basis. This case will probably be cited in any similar situations.