Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, April 24, 2017

European Nations Fail to Uphold Commitment to Returning Jewish Property

Holocaust propertySeveral European nations have failed to uphold their end of the deal after singing a 2009 declaration, the Terezin Declartion, detailing the treatment of immovable property restitution for those assets taken during the Holocaust-era. A new comprehensive study reveals the national signatories who have not returned the property taken from the Jewsish during World War II. Forty-seven countries singed the declaration vowing to resolve the Holocaust property issues, but many have only partially complied, while some have done nothing to honor their commitments. It is essential that these countries commit to providing restitution or compensation while the remaining survivors can still benefit.

See Perry Chiaramonte, European Nations Not Returning Jewish Properties Taken During Holocaust Era, Fox News, April 24, 2017.

April 24, 2017 in Death Event Planning, 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)

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)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

How Medieval Villagers Prevented the "Walking Dead"

ZombiesFor centuries now, people have been fearful of corpses rising from their graves to haunt the living. Fast forward to today, archaeologists think they have discovered evidence of medieval tactics to prevent the “walking dead.” The researchers revisited a pit of human remains uncovered nearly 1,000 years earlier, finding that the corpses were burned and mutilated after death. The findings offered two explanations: cannibalism or the bodies were dismembered to ensure they would not haunt the living. Upon initial discovery, the bones were thought to have been inadvertently disturbed dating all the way back to the Roman-era. Radiocarbon dating, however, proved the bones were contemporary with the local medieval town. The newest findings unveil the best archaeological evidence of this practice, representing a dark side of medieval beliefs and detailing a graphic reminder of how different the medieval view was at that time.

See Megan Gannon, Walking Dead? Medieval Villagers Zombie-Proofed Their Corpses, Fox News, April 10, 2017.

April 13, 2017 in Death Event Planning | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Heartbroken Mother Shares Moment Son Wrote a Will in Final Moments of Cancer Battle

NolanRuth Scully shared an emotional Facebook post about her son, Nolan, who died of cancer at age four, revealing the pain of watching her child suffer and the final miracle before losing him. Approximately an hour before Nolan passed away, he filled out a will, detailing how he wanted his funeral, picking his pallbearers, the dress attire for the funeral, what he would leave to each family member, and how he wanted to be remembered as a policeman. Nolan’s miracle occurred when he was in his last moments of life, managing to open his eyes one last time, smile, and say “I love you, Mommy.”

See Emma Reynolds, ‘I Love You Mommy’: Heartbroken Mother Shares 4-Year-Old Son’s Final Moments of Cancer Battle, Fox News, April 7, 2017.

April 9, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

John Glenn's Final Send Off

John glennFamily and friends are gathering at Arlington National Cemetery to say their final goodbyes to astronaut and Senator John Glenn. He died at the age of 95, after being the first American to orbit Earth. Public mourning events took place in his home state of Ohio, but the interment in Arlington is a private event for a more personal memorial. The U.S. Marine Corps will live stream parts of the memorial, which includes the procession by caisson, a flyover, and a graveside service. NASA TV will also air the memorial.

See Family Gathers for Private Send-Off of Astronaut John Glenn, Fox News, April 6, 2017.

April 6, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Is Laughter the Best Medicine?

LaughterLaughter truly is the best medicine, so it is no surprise that one-third of Brits want to be remembered for their humor when they die. Specifically, 36% of Brits prioritized humor over every other trait, while 41% said their most enduring memories with loved ones included their jokes, smiles, and laughs. As for how they want to be defined in death, most Brits claimed that levity and amusement were the most-desired characteristics. Further, the study looked at how memories impact coping with death. Many of the survey participants felt that their memories of loved ones were tainted because of the poor end-of-life care they received. Losing a loved one can be a traumatic time, but the right support and laughter may just be the necessary coping mechanisms.

See Now That’s Having the Last Laugh! A Third of Brits Want to Be Remembered for Their Sense of Humor After They Die, Daily Mail, March 16, 2017.

April 1, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Quest to Live Forever

Live foreverIf you could live to 200 and remain healthy, would you? The National Academy of Medicine’s Grand Challenge in Healthy Longevity is awarding at least $25 million for breakthroughs in the area of aging gracefully. For decades now, the idea that age could be twiddled with has consumed scientists, as they continue to transform death into a technical problem rather than a metaphysical one. Essentially, if we want to live longer, we must slow aging itself. Even then, we will not live forever; it is simply not possible with the rapid drain on natural resources and Social Security. So, the struggle between healthspanners and immortalists brings us into an age where preserving life, even at the cost of dying, is ever-so human.

See Tad Friend, Silicon Valley’s Quest to Live Forever, New Yorker, April 3, 2017.

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

March 31, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Will You Be Able to Live Forever?

Damaged dnaHave scientists found a revolutionary drug that could reverse aging? The drug may help to repair damaged DNA and protect astronauts on Mars by defending them against solar radiation. The drug was developed after using mice to discover a key signaling process in DNA repair and cell aging. Ultimately, the new drug will help mitigate the effects of DNA damage for astronauts and childhood cancer survivors. Human trials for this new anti-aging drug will begin within six months at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

See Harry Pettit, Would YOU Choose to Live Forever? Age-Reversing Pill that Nasa Wants to Give to Astronauts on Mars Will Begin Human Trials Within Six Months, Daily Mail, March 23, 2017.

March 31, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Death and Dying Talk Should Start Early in Physicians' Careers

Talking about death2Doctors learn about several important issues upon starting medical school, but what about learning how to talk with patients about death and dying? Effective end-of-life conversations—discussing how long patients will survive, what dying is actually like, and whether spirituality plays a role in a patient’s last moment—can be hard to grasp. At first glance, one might think that physicians’ poor understanding about these tough conversations is baffling, especially because of their role as custodians of health across the lifespan. But if you look deeper, perhaps it is less the attitude of the physicians and more of the system that nurtures them. Physicians actually get little training on how to confront death. Understanding how a transparent communication strategy can ease a patient’s pain and suffering plays a vital role in a patient’s point of view. However, it is still unclear on how this lack of preparedness arises—whether by personal difficulty talking about such a sensitive topic, an inadequate medical curriculum, or lack of training during residency. One way to address these deficiencies is to incorporate a course into the medical school curriculum; another way is to have senior physicians start taking more active roles as mentors.

See Junaid Nabi, Learning to Talk About Death and Dying Should Start Early in Doctors’ Careers, Fox News, March 27, 2017.

March 30, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)