Wednesday, January 2, 2013
In In Re Certified Question (Mattison v Social Security Commissioner), the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that children born after the death of a parent who were not in gestation at the time the parent died may not inherit from that parent under Michigan intestacy law.
The plaintiff and her husband began an in vitro fertilization program in October 2000. After the plaintiff's husband died unexpectedly in January 2001, she continued the program and gave birth to twins in October 2001. After their birth, she applied for social security survivors' benefits. The administrative law judge found that the twins were not entitled to those benefits under Michigan intestacy law. The plaintiff then brought her case before the District Court for the Western District of Michigan, and the question was certified to the Michigan Supreme Court. The Michigan Supreme Court agreed with the administrative law judge.
Justice Young wrote a dissent that stated he would have declined to answer the certified question, noting that the Michigan Supreme Court may not issue advisory opinions. He further commented that there was nothing unclear about the Michigan intestacy law and the District Court should have been able to determine this question.
See Sarah Riley Howard, Twins Conceived With IVF After Father's Death Cannot Inherit From Him, Nor Collect SSI, JDSupra, Dec. 31, 2012.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.