More than 1 in 6 couples face infertility issues, and more than 5 million babies have been born worldwide using methods such as in vitro fertilization, or IVF. What happens when couples create viable embryos but something unforeseen happens, like they divorce, one of them dies, or they simply break up? An interesting new lawsuit was recently filed in California on this very issue, in what may be a fascinating test case for issues such as pro-choice vs. pro-life and parental rights. And the case just happens to involve Modern Family actress, Sofia Vergara.
Lessons from a Lawsuit: Estate Planning for Infertility
Sofia Vergara Sued Over Frozen Embryos
Sofia Vergara has been sued by her ex-fiancée who seeks control over two frozen embryos that the couple created before they broke off the engagement. They signed a directive form ahead of time, indicating that the embryos would remain frozen until they both agreed otherwise, but if one should pass away, the embryos would be destroyed. Vergara’s ex, Nick Loeb, follows the conservative ideology that life begins at conception. He sued seeking to protect the embryos from ever being destroyed. He instead wants to have them implanted and brought to term, so that he can be a father. Vergara does not want to have any children with her ex, under any circumstances, and has said she will oppose the lawsuit.
Michigan Health Care Advance Directives and IVF
The directive form used in this case is not uncommon, and serves a similar purpose to an end-of-life directive that many people execute when doing estate planning. In Michigan, they are called Advance Directives and are usually prepared as part of a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and/or Patient Advocate Designation. These legal documents are critical components of any thorough estate plan.
Just like with an Advance Directive form, a directive form for IVF should never be signed by someone who is not completely comfortable with the legal implications. Anyone working through the estate planning process should address that “what-ifs” that could happen down the road. Similarly, couples going through IVF should discuss and reach consensus about the “what-ifs” that could happen with the fertility process. The Sofia Vergara lawsuit has already turned very ugly, and it’s just begun. It could drag on for many years of litigation and appeals. And it could have been avoided with better preparation.
Danielle and Andy Mayoras discuss this case in detail in an article they recently wrote for Forbes, “Sofia Vergara Lawsuit Teaches Lesson For Couples Seeking IVF.” Some of the allegations raised by Nick Loeb against Sofia Vergara are shocking, to say the least.
If you have not yet addressed all of the “what-ifs” that could happen in your life – in the event of disability, the normal aging process, or even infertility issues – contact the experienced estate planning lawyers at Barron, Rosenberg, Mayoras & Mayoras, P.C., for a free consultation. It’s much better to plan ahead and avoid problems that could result from poor estate planning, including exposing your loved ones to extended probate litigation in court.