Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Daughter-in-Law's Perspective on Her Dying Mother-in-Law

EllenWith looming imminent kidney failure, Ellen does not expect to live much longer, but she is as active in her death as she was throughout her life. She does not want to subject herself to life-sustaining treatments and makes this clear to those that are managing her care.

Her daughter-in-law writes the Article from her perspective, and eventually lets the reader know that she does not agree with the death plan her mother-in-law has put into place. It is hard to comprehend someone’s reasoning when you want them to stick around for many more of life’s events. She soon realizes, however, to help Ellen reach her goal of a peaceful end is what matters most.

See Cindy Schweich Handler, I Didn’t Like It, but This Was the Death She Chose, Washington Post, June 20, 2016.

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

June 25, 2016 in Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Aid-in-Dying Facility Opens in Berkeley

End of life practiceBerkeley physician Lonny Shavelson has opened a medical facility specializing in aid-in-dying care for terminally ill patients that fall under the End of Life Option Act. With great opposition, Shavelson is hoping to open communication with terminally patients and normalize the practice while other doctors get comfortable with the idea. As more and more doctors accept the practice, Shavelson anticipates that his practice will no longer be in demand—a hope he welcomes.

See Karim Doumar, Berkeley Physician Opens End-of-Life Practice in City, Daily Californian, June 13, 2016.

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

June 14, 2016 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Physicians Question the End of Life Act

End of life actThe End of Life Act will allow terminally ill patients in California to take medicines to end their suffering. This Act has many physicians questioning where the bright line rule has gone and whether they would ever consider writing a prescription for death. Although physicians are not forced to write these prescriptions, they must be able to discuss the options with applicable patients. Experts predict that this practice, however, will be a marginalized practice within the healthcare system. Most patients weigh their options before turning to this medicine, and it is important for physicians to address the concerns and fears that these patients are experiencing.

See Soumya Karlamangla, As California’s End of Life Act Goes into Effect, Some Doctors Question Where to Draw the Line, Los Angeles Times, June 6, 2016.

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

June 7, 2016 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 3, 2016

Estate Planning for Military Members

Military estate planningThe needs for military members’ estate plans are distinct, especially when they are deployed. It is essential for them to be provided with access to special benefits and resources. Military personnel have access to low-cost term life insurance and legal assistance on base. They also need to keep their beneficiary information updated and make any survivor decisions for their pension. Other survivor benefits exist, such as SGLI death benefits, and military members should consider these benefits when planning their estate.

See Kimberly Lankford, Estate Planning for Military Families, Kiplinger, May 27, 2016.

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

June 3, 2016 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 30, 2016

How to Cope with an Alzheimer's Diagnosis

AlzheimersApproximately 5.4 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s, which has many friends and family members wondering how to act toward them. With disease progression being unpredictable, it is hard to understand the different stages and learn how to handle each phase. The Article discusses how emotional support from friends and family members is key. Being open about the diagnosis can help ease social situations and promote conversation. Also, experts advise taking cues from the person coping with Alzheimer’s and allowing them to take the lead.

See Susan Berger, What’s the Best Way to Talk to Someone with Alzheimer’s?, Washington Post, May 30, 2016.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret for bringing this Article to my attention.  


May 30, 2016 in Death Event Planning, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Appointing a Stranger as a Will Executor?

Will executorIs it OK to appoint a stranger as executor of your will? Sometimes couples with no children find it hard to select someone to execute their will after one or both dies. So, if one partner dies first, it seems best to make the other the will executor with any necessary help. In selecting a will executor for when both die, it is best to shop around for or consult a lawyer that fits your criteria. Also, remember that friends and extended family members often have invaluable advice for recommendations.

See Quentin Fottrell, My Wife and I Don’t Trust Anyone To Be Executor of Our Will, MarketWatch, May 23, 2016.

May 27, 2016 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Who Controls the Disposition of a Decedent's Remains?


Burial fightKyril Faenov did not make his desires known with respect to the disposition of his remains after death. His widow arranged to bury him at a cemetery in Seattle. However, his mother wanted to exhume his remains and place them in Oregon, and she petitioned the court for permission. The court denied the petition, stating that in absence of testamentary intent, the statutory kinship hierarchy controls such disposition for a decedent’s remains.

            The General Cemetery Act permits the control of human remains to vest in kinship priority, placing the surviving spouse above a surviving parent. Further, the court noted that the right to control burial circumstances that vest is a perpetual right. One that his widow enjoys unshared statutory priority in.

See Julianne Tobin Wojay, Mom Can’t Disinter Son’s Body Without Widow’s OK, May 18, 2016.

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

May 24, 2016 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

When Political Humor Is Included In An Obituary

NolandWith the Presidential election coming up this year sometimes people can attempt to use political humor in unlikely places.  There was recently an obituary that made humorous remark about the upcoming election.  Provided below is a sample of the obituary:

NOLAND, Mary Anne Alfriend. Faced with the prospect of voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Mary Anne Noland of Richmond chose, instead, to pass into the eternal love of God on Sunday, May 15, 2016, at the age of 68. Born in Danville, Va., Mary Anne was a graduate of Douglas Freeman High School (1966) and the University of Virginia School of Nursing (1970). A faithful child of God, Mary Anne devoted her life to sharing the love she received from Christ with all whose lives she touched as a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend and nurse. Mary Anne was predeceased by her father, Kyle T. Alfriend Jr. and Esther G. Alfriend of Richmond. She is survived by her husband, Jim; sister, Esther; and brothers, Terry (Bonnie) and Mac (Carole). She was a mother to three sons, Jake (Stormy), Josh (Amy) and David (Katie); and she was "Grammy" to 10 beloved grandchildren. A visitation will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 17, at Trinity United Methodist Church, 903 Forest Ave., in Henrico. A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, May 18, 1 p.m., with a reception to follow, also at Trinity UMC. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to CARITAS, P.O. Box 25790, Richmond, Va. 23260.

See Obituary of Mary Ann Noland, Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 17, 2016.

Special thanks to Turney Berry for bringing this obituary to my attention.

May 18, 2016 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

When Funeral Home Managers Have To Deal With Abandoned Cremains

Funeral servicesThis article discusses a situation involving a funeral home manager trying to locate the relatives for a large number of unidentified cremated remains.  “The new manager of a Colorado funeral home is trying to find relatives for the cremated remains of about 170 people that were left in the building's basement after going unclaimed.”  The manager of the home Matt Boyle is not responsible for locating the relatives, but he wants to do it because he feels that it is the right thing to do.  The previous owner of the funeral home is currently under investigation for fraud and misconduct.  “Remains not claimed by May 29 will be included in a multi-denominational service at a cemetery.”  The funeral home is currently making an effort to contact as many family members as possible. 

See New funeral home manager puzzles over 170 abandoned cremains, Fox News, May 7, 2016.

May 8, 2016 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Advanced Directives Are A Great Way To Ensure Your Future Wishes Are Respected

Pen and PaperAs old age approaches, many people begin to consider what their last wishes will be particularly in regards to how their property and health will be managed in the event of incapacitation. However, while many think, few plan and largely allow their wishes to be forgotten or ignored since they take no affirmative action to legally bind others to their desires. This is where an advanced directive can come into play since they allow for instructions to be given about care which must be followed by later decision makers. In addition to instructions, the advanced directive can appoint a specific person to carry out the wishes of the directive's creator. An advanced directive can be supplemented by a living will which dictates what level of end of life care will be given under certain circumstances. But, despite the advantages of these documents, relatively few people take advantage of what they have to offer although greater education about the benefits is slowly pushing more people in the right direction.

See Jamie Zuckerman, Why Do So Few Americans Have Advance Directives?, Wealth Management, April 18, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

April 21, 2016 in Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)