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Posthumous Child

An infant who is born subsequent to the death of the father or, in certain cases, the mother.

At COMMON LAW and by the laws of various states, governing DESCENT AND DISTRIBUTION, a posthumous child inherits from a deceased parent's estate as an heir provided that the infant is born alive following a gestation period that shows that the child was conceived prior to the death of the father who has died intestate. Under some statutes, it is necessary that the child be born within a ten-month period subsequent to the intestate father's death in order for the infant to be considered a posthumous child.

Laws addressing a posthumous child are rapidly becoming obsolete as medical advances extend the time period over which REPRODUCTION can occur. For example, sperm and eggs may be preserved in a frozen state past the lives of their donors. It is also possible to remove sperm or eggs, or perform a Caesarian section, after a person's death. Scholars and scientists anticipate the development of additional ways for genetic material to be preserved, and children to be born, after the death of the biological parent. These developments create new legal problems and are likely to necessitate changes for laws in several areas, including survivors' benefits, inheritance, and support.

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