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Child Conceived by Artificial Insemination Does Not Inherit

The Supreme Court of New Hampshire
rules that a child conceived after her father’s death through
artificial insemination is ineligible to inherit from him as his
surviving issue. Khabbaz v. Commissioner. (N.H., No. 2006-751, Aug. 9, 2007).

After being diagnosed with a terminal illness, Rumzi Brian Khabbaz
banked his sperm so his wife, Donna M. Eng, could conceive a child
through artificial insemination. Mr. Khabbaz executed a consent form
stating that his wife could use the sperm to achieve pregnancy and that
it was “his desire and intent to be legally recognized as the father of
his child to the fullest extent allowable by law.” Christine C. Eng
Khabbaz was conceived by artificial insemination and was born more than
two years after Mr. Khabbaz’s death. Ms. Eng, on behalf of Christine,
subsequently filed for Social Security survivor’s benefits based on
state intestacy law.

The Social Security Administration denied Ms. Eng’s application based
on an interpretation of New Hampshire’s intestacy distribution statute.
Ms. Eng appealed, arguing that Christine is a “surviving issue” within
the meaning of the New Hampshire statute and that Mr. Khabbaz’s death
“ended the marriage, leaving Christine born to unwed parents and
eligible to inherit from her father.” The U.S. District Court for the
District of New Hampshire asked the Supreme Court of New Hampshire to
rule on the question of whether a child born in this manner may inherit
from her father as his “surviving issue.”

 The court finds that Christine cannot be considered a “surviving issue”
because she was conceived and born more than a year after Mr. Khabbaz’s
death. The intent of the legislature was to create “a statutory scheme
under which those who survive a decedent’s death – that is, those who
remain alive at the time of the decedent’s death – may inherit in a
timely and orderly fashion contingent upon who is alive.” Further, the
court rejects the contention that Christine is an illegitimate child.
Accordingly, the court holds that Christine may not inherit from her
father’s estate as a surviving issue

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