Having A Will And Being A Surrogate: What Do They Have To Do With Each Other?
There is so much excitement and hope when a surrogacy journey starts out. The blossoming relationship between the gestational carrier and the intended parents can be exhilarating, and the pregnancy and delivery of a new, beautiful life is just on the horizon! It can be unnerving to surrogates and to intended parents to have to think about estate planning - wills, trusts, advance medical directives, etc. It seems like a downer topic for such an exciting time, but it turns out that a surrogacy journey is one of the best times to get your affairs in order. It may feel a little morbid, but in reality it is just responsible planning for those we care most about (which is arguably as important as bringing that new life into the world). Here are three important points to keep in mind about estate planning and surrogacy:
1. Protect Your Kiddos! As a gestational carrier, or surrogate, it is important to have a will and other basic estate planning documents in place to protect your children. Pregnancy and delivery come with risks, no matter how small, and making sure that your loved ones are protected if something happens to you need to be at the top of your “To Do” list. This includes making critical decisions not only about money and your estate, but also figuring out who would step in to take care of your children as their guardians. As a gestational carrier, you may be offered a life insurance policy for the duration of the pregnancy, paid for by the intended parents. Make sure you complete the paperwork to get this policy in place! t could make a world of difference to your children if the worst should occur.
2. Be Prepared if Something Goes (Really) Wrong. If you do become a surrogate, you have to think about another life and another family. If something tragic occurred leaving you on life support while pregnant, it is likely that the intended parents (IPs) will wish that you be kept you on life support if there is any chance their baby may survive. Your spouse and other family members need to understand these wishes. And these wishes should ideally show up in a legal document such as a living will or an advance healthcare directive.
3. What if Something Happens to the Intended Parents? Whether you are a gestational carrier or an intended parent, you want to be assured that if something happens to the intended parents there is a plan in place for the baby. For many IPs, it’s hard to imagine their baby finally being conceived, carried, and born. It’s an even harder exercise to then ask them to imagine what happens if they were to die during the pregnancy. Nonetheless, it is important to be prepared and know who the IPs have appointed to look after their child should that situation arise. Ideally, IPs will have provided the gestational carrier the full contact information for their chosen guardian, and have estate planning documents in place to effectuate a concrete plan to take care of their baby’s future.
All parties already have a lawyer they are working with, and this is a good time to think about your life, your wishes, and what happens when you are gone. Many assisted reproductive technology (ART!) lawyers also offer estate planning. While you are in the midst of legal agreements, it’s a good time to get all of this decision-making and paperwork out of the way and get your estate plan done. Then everyone can sleep a little easier knowing that if the worst happens, the families are well-protected.