Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Actress Sofia Vergara recently became enmeshed in a legal battle with her former fiancé, Nick Loeb, over two frozen embryos the couple created when they were planning to use in vitro fertilization. Vergara and Loeb documented their agreement to keep the embryos frozen unless they agreed to either use or destroy them. Otherwise, the embryos would be destroyed if one of them dies. Because the documents did not address what would happen when the couple split, Loeb filed a lawsuit requesting that the embryos cannot be destroyed and the survivor between Loeb and Vergara would have control over the embryos upon the death of the other party.
This type of dispute galvanizes the debate on assisted reproductive technology (ART). The presence of ART and constantly changing technologies require that estate planning attorneys be vigilantly aware of the laws in this field. It is imperative practitioners inquire into the existence of any written document or directive that specifies the ultimate use or destruction of frozen genetic material such as embryos. Estate planners should consider the importance of including genetic material in estate planning documents and marital agreements.
See Elizabeth Meck, Who Gets the Embryo? Fiduciary Law Blog, Apr. 27, 2015.