U.S. Supreme Court Rules Twins Conceived Posthumously Not Entitled to Benefits

6:57 pm Estate Planning, Wills

supreme court bldg e1337626559299 U.S. Supreme Court Rules Twins Conceived Posthumously Not Entitled to BenefitsToday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a pair of Florida twins conceived via artificial insemination following their father’s death are not entitled to Social Security survivor benefits because of a requirement that the federal government adhere to state inheritance laws.

The case, Astrue v. Capato, involved the Capato twins who were born 18 months after their father, Robert Capato, died from esophageal cancer.  Their mother, Karen Capato, applied for survivor benefits to the Social Security Administration, which rejected the application, saying that Robert Capato had to be alive when the twins were conceived to qualify.   Robert Capato was a Florida resident at the time of his death, and Florida law prohibits children conceived posthumously from inheritance unless they are named in a will.  Capato’s will did not include the twins.

While pregnant with the twins, Karen Capato moved to New Jersey and argued that her children should have been considered citizens of that state, which has different inheritance laws than Florida.  A Philadelphia appeals court overturned the Social Security Administration’s decision, ruling that the twins were the biological children of Robert Capato and deserved survivor benefits.

In overturning the appeals court decision, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote in the unanimous opinion, “The law Congress enacted calls for resolution of Karen Capato’s application for child’s insurance benefits by reference to state intestacy law.  We cannot replace that reference by creating a uniform federal rule that statute’s text scarcely supports.”

Several states currently make provisions for posthumously conceived children, including California, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana and North Dakota.

Let our Costa Mesa law offices help you get started by contacting us today.

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