Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, April 21, 2017

Controversial "Three-Parent Baby" Procedure Takes Off in Mexico

Three baby“Three-parent babies,” a new procedure offered to couples who want to reduce the risk of passing specific genetic diseases to their children, is a term that has drawn much attention from the public recently. The procedure has also been viewed as controversial because the embryo takes eggs from two separate mothers and transfers the nucleus from a mother’s egg to a donor egg that had its nucleus removed, which makes its ban in the United States unsurprising due to the potential spreading of defected mitochondria. Currently, Mexico, where medical professional believe they are on the vanguard of medical research, is one country that offers the procedure, possibly due to its weak regulatory framework.

See Jan-Albert Hootsen, Controversial ‘Three-Parent Baby’ Fertility Technique Takes Off in Mexico City, Fox News, April 18, 2017.

April 21, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Prince's Deliverance Will Not Be Released Tomorrow as Estate Gets Restraining Order

DeliverancePrince’s estate has put the brakes on the planned anniversary release of a new album after a court ruled in its favor. A federal judge granted the estate’s request for a restraining order, meaning that “Deliverance” will not be released tomorrow on the anniversary of Prince’s death. The original producer, George Ian Boxill, who put together the extended play, does not have a right to publicly distribute the music, possibly due to a confidentiality agreement signed back in 2006. Boxill was further ordered to turn over all recordings to the estate. The order, however, did not address the millions of unlucky Prince fans who pre-ordered the album.

See Prince Estate Don’t Even Think About Releasing New Music . . . Producer Loses in Court, TMZ, April 19, 2017.

April 20, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reports Claiming that Couple Seeking IVF Treatment Were Twins Is Untrue

TwinsA report that a couple recently went to a Mississippi fertility clinic and got the surprise of their life when the doctor told them that they were fraternal twins was fake news! The original report did not include verifiable details, such as the reporter’s name, the clinic’s name, the identity of the specialist, or the patient’s names. Because the story was quite interesting to read, several subsequent sites reported the story without fact-checking, which further created public acceptance.

See David Mikkelson, Couple Finds Out They Are Biological Twins During IVF Treatment?, Snopes, April 15, 2017. 

April 20, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

The World's New Oldest Human

Violet brownAccording to Violet-Mosse Brown, you become the world’s oldest human by not drinking rum. After all, Brown would know because she has recently been dubbed the world’s oldest human, being born March 10, 1900. A Jamaican woman, Brown has witnessed a lot of historic milestones for her country, including the first planes and cars to touch down on the island. Brown got the title of the world’s oldest human after Emma Morano died this past Saturday.

See Sophie Lewis, There’s a New World’s Oldest Woman, CNN, April 17, 2017.

Special thanks to Adam Hirsch (Professor of Law, University of San Diego School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.  

April 20, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

New Prince Music to Drop on Anniversary of His Death

Prince new songSix new Prince songs are about to drop on iTunes, but how long will they be there? The extended play is titled “Deliverance,” and you can already preview the title song. If you want to pre-order the tracks it will cost you $3.99, but other than the title track, the songs will not be available until April 21—the one year anniversary of Prince’s death. The songs were all recorded between 2006 and 2008, and a majority of the sales for the extended play will benefit Prince’s estate.

See Prince New Music Drops Ahead of Anniversary!, TMZ, April 18, 2017.

April 19, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Future of the Gift Tax

Gift taxAt this point, Americans are convinced that the estate tax will be eliminated, but what about the gift tax? Estate planners are cautioning that this uncertainty should not be taken lightly, as changes to the gift tax could create undesired tax ramifications or potentially make it easier to avoid taxes. Because the gift tax is often viewed as a backstop to the estate tax, some may view their combined elimination as a sound option, but not so fast. The gift tax also backstops the income tax, potentially allowing people to play games and income-shift, while realizing a reduced number of tax brackets. One way to prevent taxpayers from playing income-shifting games is to increase the capital gains tax; however, this strategy could ultimately create further complications for dynasty trusts. Whatever the outcome may be, it is important for estate planners to advise their clients on the potential consequences of any changes to the gift tax.

See Allyson Versprille, Gift Tax Tweaks Could Lead to Unsavory Avoidance Tactics, Bloomberg, April 10, 2017.

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

April 19, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

James Baldwin's Private Archives May Finally Come into Full View

James baldwinJames Baldwin may have died in 1987, but his time is now, as his prophetic essays on race are flying off the shelves, reading like today’s news. While anyone can go purchase his books, Baldwin still remains elusive with admirers longing to read his letters. Baldwin’s estate has held tightly to hundreds of his correspondence documents and never allowed them to be published. Now, the pioneer’s papers have landed in the hands of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture but will be unavailable for yet another generation, as negotiations continue between the library and his estate. These negotiations suggest that Baldwin’s protective estate is not quite ready for the world to see the complete, private Baldwin. The estate’s reservations may very well be outweighed by the richness of the archive, specifically how Baldwin navigated the different aspects of his identity—gay, African-American, political, and artistic. Ultimately, the final reveal of Baldwin’s papers will shine a light on his lively existence and confirm the public message he always set out to convey.

See Jennifer Schuessler, James Baldwin’s Archive, Long Hidden, Comes (Mostly) into View, N.Y. Times, April 12, 2017.

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

April 19, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Bunkers for High Net Worth Clients

BunkerA new business is catering to high net worth clients and their emergency preparedness as they potentially face encroaching disasters and political uprisings. Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Zuckerberg, and Ralph Lauren are taking their prepping way more seriously, with offerings such as bulletproof SUVs, safe rooms, and satellite communication equipment. Besides the natural hazards and acts of terrorism, cyber warfare is also pressuring high-net-worth individuals to opt for these defensive services and supplies. These wealth families view uncertainty and risk through a different lens than the average American. Specifically, emergency preparedness involves three steps: being informed, having a plan, and stockpiling the proper supplies.

See Thomas M. Kostigen, Bunker Time, Financial Advisor, March 21, 2017.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

April 18, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

The War on Elder Financial Abuse

Elder financial abuseIn 2016, thirty-three states along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico considered measures against the illegal use of seniors’ money, property, or assets as well as fraud or identity theft targeting elders, while some states shored up their existing laws. As the Baby Boomers roll into retirement, the number of older people attracts a greater amount of people eager to prey on them. Unfortunately, financial exploitation of the elderly is often overlooked and underreported because there are no formal government-run systems for complaints or interventions. Accordingly, stiffer penalties are necessary to combat the growing drain on older Americans’ savings.

See Elizabeth Olson, Declaring War on Financial Abuse of Older People, N.Y. Times, April 14, 2017.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

April 18, 2017 in Current Events, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Bringing the Dead Back to Life

Digital tombstoneA historic Slovenia cemetery is now installing tombstones with interactive digital screens. The 48-inch interactive screens display pictures, videos, and other information relevant to the deceased person. Reportedly, the screens cost over $3,100 and have sensors that only illuminate the screen when they are being viewed, allowing them to save energy and blend in with the rest of the tombstones. So, is the world ready for technological life stories of the dead? As times change, burial traditions will strive to keep up with the technology, even if its users are not around to see the results.

See Erin Blakemore, Digital Tombstone Brings the Dead Back to Life, Smithsonian.com, April 13, 2017.

Special thanks to Vickie Sutton (Professor of Law, Texas Tech University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.  

April 17, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)