Fathering Children after Death: Why You Need a Living Will

Posted by Charlotte Davis | Aug 21, 2023

Last March, a news story was published announcing a somewhat shocking incident of posthumous IVF. A news anchor was tragically killed in a shooting spree, and his fiancée chose to have her boyfriend's sperm removed after his death so that she could have his child via IVF.

Now, some people might find this to be a lovely story about a man's legacy living on after death. They may think of it as a beautiful way for his fiancée to still have a part of her boyfriend, and for his family to be able to see their son and brother have children, even though he is no longer living.

But other people may have serious moral and ethical problems with this arrangement.

Whatever you think of the situation, a living will ensures that your body, organs, and tissues are handled the way you prefer after death. A living will empowers individuals to make decisions about their own medical care and the treatment of their bodies after death based on their values, beliefs, and preferences. Some individuals may have strong feelings about donating organs or tissues, and avoiding certain medical treatments. A living will allows them to express these wishes in advance. It ensures that even if a patient cannot communicate his or her wishes, that person's chosen course of action will be honored.

A living will also relieves loved ones from the burden of making health care and donation choices on the individual's behalf. Family members might have differing opinions about medical treatments, end-of-life decisions, and organ donation. A living will can prevent conflicts and emotional distress among family members by providing a documented plan that reflects the individual's own wishes.

I only know what the article tells us; so, I do not know if Dylan Lyons, the boyfriend killed in the news article referenced above, had a living will. I do not know how he would have felt about fathering a child after his death. But I do know that a living will could have expressed his desires for how he would have wanted his sperm handled after death, if he had had strong feelings on the matter. Living wills can reflect the unique personalities, interests, and idiosyncrasies of the individuals creating them, even if they diverge from the more common medical and end-of-life decisions typically included in such documents. If you are someone who feels strongly about your medical care when incapacitated, or the treatment of your body after death, you need to get a living will indicating your preferences.

About the Author

Charlotte Davis

Charlotte Davis brings 20 years of professional experience to Harpeth Estate Law, which she started to help clients set up estate plans that provide for their loved ones and their legacy after death.

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