Government Contracts Legal Blog

Hospital Refuses to Perform DNA Harvest on Deceased Man due to Lack of End of Life Documents

Posted by Joseph Whitcomb on Apr 30, 2017 9:48:30 PM
Joseph Whitcomb

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A Colorado woman has faced substantial difficulties in using her deceased boyfriend’s DNA to create a child because the man died without lack of estate planning documents. Although the man’s girlfriend planned to use his sperm to have a child, the hospital where the man died refused to perform the DNA harvest because the man died without proper end of life documents.

Because sperm’s viability only lasts a period of 24 to 48 hours after death, the woman now appears to have lost her struggle due to lack of estate planning documents. While the girlfriend has raised the argument that sperm should have been collected because the man was an organ donor, the man lacked medical paperwork dictating his wishes. Without proper end of life documents, the girlfriend cannot serve as his power of attorney.

Why DNA Challenges Are on the Rise

Problems concerning the harvesting and use of sperm have substantially increased in recent years because this process is practiced much more often. Over half a million embryos along with millions of sperm are cryogenically frozen in the United States each year with the intended purposes of having children at a later date. Because in some cases, eggs or sperm might be used years after they are provided, these medical procedures create unique considerations.

Unique Estate Planning Issues Created by the Use of Frozen Eggs and Sperm

There are some unique considerations that have arisen concerning the use of frozen eggs and embryos. Some of these issues include the following:

  • Lack of Intent in Estate Planning Documents. These problems involve determining what should be done with harvesting an individual’s DNA when the individual has discussed such a procedure but has not left medical documents reflecting this decision. Another similar question involving intent is if a child’s relative’s plans did not anticipate such a possibility as the child being born in their estate planning documents.
  • Children Born After a Parent’s Death. One of the largest issues that arise in these cases is whether children should be able to collect from a deceased parent’s estate if the child is born after the parent has died. Another common question in these types of cases is whether should is entitled to life insurance proceeds from the parent that died. Colorado is one of a small number of states that have probate laws regarding a child who is born after a parent’s death. Law in the state of Colorado automatically includes any child born to the surviving spouse within 45 months of a married partner’s death in the deceased parent’s estate.
  • Waiting Period. If an individual has their sperm or eggs harvested and then dies, questions arise concerning how long must the individual’s estate wait before administering the individual’s estate.

Contact a Knowledgeable Colorado Estate Planning Attorney

Contact a Knowledgeable Colorado Estate Planning Attorney It is critical that all individuals craft a medical power attorney. If you need help establishing this document or any other types of estate planning devices, a skilled Denver attorney at Whitcomb, Selinsky, & McAuliffe, PC is ready to help you today. Contact our firm online or call our practice at (866) 476-4558.

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Topics: Estate Planning

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