Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Out of the Ordinary Obituary


Instead of a traditional obituary, Sweden’s Stig Kernell instead published one simple line: “I am dead.”

Kernell was 92 when he passed.  His son said he had a great sense of humor and wasn’t afraid of death.  Although Kernell wanted to keep his obit simple, newspapers around the world picked up on this odd obit, probably giving Kernell’s death much more acknowledgement than he intended.

See Man’s Three-Word Obit Goes Viral, AOL, Apr. 14, 2014.

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.

April 16, 2014 in Death Event Planning, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Rooney Burial Dispute Resolved


Mickey Rooney will be buried in Hollywood Forever Cemetery alongside other Hollywood legends like Charlie Chaplin, Jayne Mansfield, Rudolph Valentino, and Douglas Fairbanks.

This decision was made by Rooney’s trustee and temporary executor, Michael Augustine, following the resolution of a dispute with Rooney’s estranged wife, Jan Chamberlin Rooney.  Jan had wanted the burial to take place in Westlake, where the couple previously lived.

See Hilary Lewis, Mickey Rooney Burial Dispute Resolved, The Hollywood Reporter, Apr. 11, 2014.

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

April 14, 2014 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Death Planning Lesson from Ted Williams


Ever since Ted Williams died in 2002, his head and his body live in separate cryogenic tanks in Arizona.  Based on a recently published biography, the famous slugger may not have wanted to be frozen.  He called for his lawyers several times before his death, but his son John-Henry, who was enamored with the idea of cryogenics, made sure the meeting never happened. 

One lesson we can learn from this is to let somebody know your wishes right now.  Advance Directives for Healthcare ask you to choose between burial and cremation.  If you want something different, then let someone know and weave it into effective legal documents.  Also remember to specify your wishes regarding your funeral or memorial.

See George Fox, Pink, Grey, The Queen of Hearts, and Ted Williams, Fox & Mattson, P.C., March 13, 2014.

April 5, 2014 in Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Woman Allegedly Frozen to Death by Hospital


The family of Maria de Jesus Arroyo can proceed with their claim that the 80-year-old woman was frozen to death in a hospital morgue after being prematurely declared dead.

In 2010, Arroyo suffered a heart attack and was placed in a freezer at the Boyle Heights Hospital.  When morticians received her body, the woman had a broken nose and disfiguring cuts and bruises on her face.  A pathologist concluded Arroyo “had been frozen alive, ‘eventually woke up’ and caused the injuries herself during a failed struggle to escape her ‘frozen tomb.’”

The Los Angeles County Superior Court threw out the family’s medical malpractice lawsuit because it was filed past the one-year statute of limitations, but the appellate court overturned the ruling, saying the family had “absolutely no reason” to suspect Arroyo was alive until they heard the pathologist’s expert opinion. 

See Los Angeles Family Says Woman Was Frozen to Death by Hospital, Fox News, Apr. 3, 2014.

April 4, 2014 in Death Event Planning, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How to Plan Your Estate in the Wake of Modern Technology


With the advent of technology permeating society, it becomes important to plan for your “digital death.”  Many of us will leave behind email accounts, Facebook profiles, blogs, online businesses and more.  Thus, if we do not properly prepare, our loved ones could lose these parts of us as well.  Below are 5 ways to help prepare:

  1. Document Digital Accounts.  Try to log all the digital accounts you may have including email accounts, financial institutions and policies, online businesses, social media accounts, and sites where you have registered credit card information. 
  2. Give Instructions How to Handle the Account.  Upon death, allocate which accounts should be deleted.  Elect someone to retrieve other accounts, noting your username and password.
  3. Understand Your Account’s Terms of Service.  Yahoo’s terms of service do not allow your account to be turned over to anyone else and are subject to permanent deletion.  However, Google offers an Inactive Account Manager that allows you to dictate how your possessions in the site should be handled.  Decide what settings work best for you. 
  4. Determine Where to Save Your Information.  Find a secure location so that a loved one can easily access your information in the event of your death. 
  5. Obtain Legal Advice and Inform Family Where Information is Saved.  Get legal advice to verify you have complied with state laws.  Make sure to tell a loved one where this information is stored so they have a plan in place as well.  

See Laura Shin, The New Financial Task We All Need to Tackle ASAP, Forbes, March 31, 2014.  

April 3, 2014 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

End-of-Life Planning Websites Gaining Popularity


Websites geared towards helping people with end-of-life planning and document storage are on the rise.  Here’s a look at three of the main ones:

  • Everplans:  After taking a short assessment, this site creates a to-do checklist and tells you how to prioritize.  Once you’re done with the checklist, your account serves as a repository for legal documents and other important information.  Specific “deputies” you assign can then find everything neatly in one place.  
  • Principled Heart:  This site focuses on providing a safe place for passwords or instructions on how to find passwords.  There are sections for instructions on caring for pets, last letters of instruction, contact lists, and places to upload up to 60 documents. 
  • Aftersteps:  This site begins by asking you to name three people to be notified after your death.  These “verifiers” will then receive a list of people to contact as well as access to stored information.  You can also store photos, passwords, instructions for digital accounts, and wishes for your funeral arrangement.

See Tara Siegel Bernard, Navigating the Logistics of Death Ahead of Time, The New York Times, March 28, 2014.

Special thanks to Matthew Bogin and Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention. 

April 2, 2014 in Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Other "Talk"


70% of those 65 or older will need long-term care services at some point in their lives, and in many cases, their kids will become their caretakers.  People in their later years need to talk to their adult children about this fact, but many may have trouble having that “talk.”

Just like the talk about the birds and the bees, people may have trouble talking about their aging because it’s uncomfortable and it’s hard to face losing control.  But according to Tim Prosch, author of The Other Talk: A Guide to Talking with Your Adult Children About the Rest of Your Life, parents need to at least discuss the following:

  • How to pay for long-term care; 
  • Where to live if they need to move out of the home;
  • Who is going to advocate for their medical needs; and    
  • What are their end-of-life instructions.

See Michelle Singletary, Having ‘the Other Talk’ with Your Kids—Not Storks, But Aging, The Washington Post, March 28, 2014.

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

March 31, 2014 in Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, Disability Planning - Property Management, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)



iEulogy is a unique cloud-based online storage service that allows members to store messages and important documents to be accessed by family and friends in the event of their passing.

The goal of iEulogy is to relieve the pain of unanswered questions such as “What did he want his funeral to look like?” or “Did she say everything she wanted to say?” by allowing members to post important  messages, videos, and legal documents.

March 31, 2014 in Death Event Planning, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Saving Funeral Costs


Funerals can cost over $27,000 these days.  Even the least expensive funerals, costing around $2,000, can be too much for some families.  Here are six ways you can save on funeral expenses: 

  1. Compare online.  Websites like FuneralDecisions.com offer free instant quotes to help consumers find low-cost funeral services in their area.
  2. Forgo embalming.  State law doesn’t require embalming, which has a median cost of $700.  Ask the funeral home if refrigeration is an option, which can be as low as $50 a day.
  3. Decline the “protective” casket.  Some caskets are equipped with a rubber gasket meant to protect the body from the elements.  This “protective” addition could raise the price of the casket by $800 and doesn’t actually preserve the body.
  4. Buy elsewhere.  Most states don’t require you to purchase your casket or urn from a funeral home, and funeral homes aren’t allowed to charge you a handling fee if you’ve purchased from somewhere else, such as a warehouse club.
  5. Have a home funeral.  It’s legal in most states to care for the body at home and take it yourself to its final resting place.
  6. Donate.  Donating your body to a medical school normally incurs no costs for the family.  Cremated remains are returned within two years. 

See Kaitlyn Wells, 7 Ways to Save on Funeral Costs, MarketWatch, March 27, 2014.

March 28, 2014 in Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

PM Cameron Speaks Out Against Assisted Dying


British Prime Minister David Cameron has confirmed that he will vote against any move to legalize assisted dying, saying it could unfairly pressure people into ending their lives.

Cameron’s comments against assisted dying came after Liberal Democrat Care Minister Norman Lamb spoke out in favor of reform, claiming it has “widespread public support.”  For now, assisted suicide in England and Wales remains a criminal offense punishable by up to 14 years in prison.  However, the Director of Public Prosecutions indicated in 2010 that anyone “acting with compassion on the will of a dying person was unlikely to face criminal charges.”

See Daniel Martin, David Cameron Says He’ll Vote Against Assisted Dying, Daily Mail, March 25, 2014.


March 28, 2014 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)