Beyond Sex: The Inheritance Rights of Children Conceived Using Assisted Reproductive Technology

Document Type


Publication Date


Conference or Event Name

Second Wills, Trust and Estates Meets Gender, Race, and Class Conference


Oklahoma City University School of Law

Institution Location

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


The intestacy system was created when families were primarily formed by procreation in a marriage; therefore, marital children are often given preferential treatment when it comes to inheriting under the intestacy system. However, as a consequence of the availability and use of assisted reproductive technology, families are being created in a variety of ways, such as gay men purchasing donor eggs and hiring surrogates in order to achieve fatherhood.

The intestacy succession laws have not kept up with the technology. Consequently, children conceived using assisted reproductive technology may not be afforded the opportunity to inherit under the current system because of the manner in which they were conceived. State intestacy laws need to be modified to reflect the fact that a default "traditional" family no longer exists. Children are typically given preferential treatment under the intestacy system because legislators assume that parents want their property to go to their children after they die, and that assumption should not be negated when a child is not conceived through sexual intercourse. Persons using assisted reproductive technology are often desperate to have children, so it is reasonable to conclude that those persons would still want their children to inherit their property if they die intestate.

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