Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Plan Ahead for Your Estate

Writing a willThe current number of those who do not have a will can be astonishing, especially knowing that they run the risk of letting the state decide what happens to their estate. Those who do have wills also often fail to update them after a change in circumstances. With a lot of important estate decisions, it is necessary to prep for your loved ones—spouses, significant others, children, and grandchildren alike. Issues like body disposition and organ donation are crucial steps to consider because if not, you leave your family members guessing as to what you would have wanted, which often leads to fights. Further, in our technology era, it will be essential to specify actions for your digital accounts. Ultimately, one must plan their estate so that the bureaucracy does not consume those we care about at the worst possible time.  

See Lisa Pollack, One Day It Will Be Curtains, so I’m Planning for It, Financial Times, January 17, 2017. 

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

 

January 19, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Aid in Dying Gains Acceptance

Aid in dyingAs aid in dying legislation continues to be passed all over the country, nearly 20% of Americans will be living in jurisdictions where terminally ill patients can legally end their life. The laws allow physicians to write prescriptions for lethal drugs when a patient qualifies. The procedure is complicated, requiring two oral requests, a written request, extensive discussions, and two physicians’ approval. Additionally, patients must have the capacity to make medical decisions. The cultural and political context surrounding the legislation, however, has changed considerably over the last two decades. There have been substantial gains in acceptance throughout various groups and organizations, but this alone does not broadly provide aid in dying to those who want it. In the upcoming years, it will be important to address how end-of-life care and aid in dying can improve to provide those in need with the help they desire. 

See Paula Span, Physician Aid in Dying Gains Acceptance in the U.S., N.Y. Times, January 16, 2017. 

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

 

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

Thieves Demand Ransom to Return Remains Back to Family

Thieves steal ashesA California family was recently forced to pay $5,000 to get their son’s remains back. Their son lost his battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma back in 2011, but his ashes remained in a locked safe. In December 2016, the family discovered that the safe had been stolen in a robbery. After working with police, the remains were located, but the thieves insisted on splitting the reward money, threatening to dump the ashes if refused. The family is still working to find out who the criminals are, hoping to bring them to justice. 

See Kyle Foley, Thieves Steal Ashes of 6-Year-Old in California, Demand Ransom to Return Them to Family, Heatstreet, January 16, 2017. 

 

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

Monday, January 16, 2017

Avoiding Financial Turmoil at Death

Estate planning earlyIt is hard enough dealing with the death of a spouse or partner, but it can become even more difficult when taking care of the financial issues of such a loss while grieving. Planning ahead can ease some avoidable financial sorrows. First, couples need to have an understanding of each individual’s assets and where they are located—life insurance policies, retirement plans, and beneficiary designations. Additionally, each partner should set up a durable power of attorney for health care and finances, with competent trustees. It will also be important to maintain openness and communication, so preparing an estate plan while you are healthy will be the best time. Ultimately, the goal is to protect the survivor and enable him or her to make informed decisions about the estate’s assets. 

See John F. Wasik, Death Is Inevitable. Financial Turmoil Afterward Isn’t., N.Y. Times, January 13, 2017. 

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

 

January 16, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

United States Organ Transplants Reach Record High

Organ donationFor the fourth year in a row, organ transplants reached a record high last year. In 2016, transplants were up 8.5% from 2015, which is a 19.8% increase since 2012. This growth can mainly be attributed to an increasing number of deceased donors. Approximately 82% of transplants involved organs from deceased donors. This increase is partially due to fewer disqualifications of deceased donations throughout the years—now, professionals, using their best judgment, evaluate the safety of each donated organ. Nearly 120,000 people are currently waiting for a life-saving organ in the United States.

See Susan Scutti, US Organ Transplants Increased Nearly 20% in Five Years, CNN, January 9, 2017. 

 

January 15, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Strangers Raise Money to Give 108-Year-Old the Proper End-of-Life Comfort

RauschAfter 108-year-old Carrie Rausch was nearly forced out of her assisted living facility, her daughter and subsequent strangers decided to raise money to help her live her remaining years in comfort. Rausch’s daughter set up a GoFundMe page when her mother outlived her assets and could no longer afford the care she had grown comfortable with. The goal was to raise $40,000, which would cover one year of room and board at the assisted living facility. The goal was exceeded through the generosity of strangers, and all funds above the goal will be donated to Rausch’s church.   

See Supporters Raise over $40G to Keep 108-Year-Old in Home, Fox News, January 12, 2017. 

 

January 14, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Hospice Care Linked to Greater Family Satisfaction

Hospice careA recent study of families with terminally ill loved ones shows that they are more satisfied with end-of-life treatment if it involves hospice care. Hospice care was associated with better symptom management, attainment of pain-management goals, and quality end-of-life care. Further, hospice care is linked to a greater likelihood of dying in the location of choice and less distress for caregivers. Those families whose loved one received at least thirty days of hospice care reported higher quality of life outcomes. 

See Hospice Care Linked to Higher Family Satisfaction, Fox News, January 5, 2017. 

 

January 9, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

How One Man Reimagined the Way We Die

Bj millerFor B.J. Miller, a triple amputee, life through his eyes was only uniquely difficult. Miller found his professional focus upon entering medical school and discovering palliative care—an approach that focuses on improving the quality of life for patients with serious illnesses and their families. Eventually, he would become the executive director of a pioneering hospice in San Francisco, the Zen Hospice Project, which originated at the height of the AIDS crisis. Now, the hospice is an independent nonprofit group that trains volunteers for a local public hospital as well as its own residential operation. The goal of Zen Hospice is to restore one’s end of life to a human experience rather than a medical one—or, as Miller puts it, to “de-pathologize death.” Miller sought to make the talk about death seem less scary, having known exactly how suffering can suspend you in a world of darkness. Miller, someone who imposes guilt on himself to live life to the fullest—a byproduct of his intimacy with mortality—selfishly ensured that his patients preserve their favorite part of themselves in their last moments. Shortly after an extreme personal experience with one of his patients, Miller stepped down as Zen Hospice’s executive director and now works on his own dream, something he calls the Center for Dying and Living, designing imaginative possibilities for palliative care. Read his full story for insight into how an amputee used his own experience to pioneer a new model of palliative care.   

See Jon Mooallem, One Man’s Quest to Change the Way We Die, N.Y. Times Magazine, January 3, 2017. 

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) & Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

 

January 9, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Disability Planning - Health Care | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Interment for Unclaimed Remains in Lubbock

UrnsAfter the demolition of a local Lubbock funeral home in November, the City of Lubbock Cemetery will hold interment for three people whose cremated remains were found. Six others’ cremated remains were also found, but they have been claimed by family. The lead detective on the case will work with the cemetery to find the unclaimed remains a final resting place.  

See Lucinda Holt, 3 to Be Interred After Remains Unclaimed, A-J Media.  

 

January 8, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Pole Dancers Hired for Taiwan Politician's Memorial

Pole dancersFormer Chiayi County Council Speaker Tung Hsiang recently passed away, and his funeral procession included fifty pole dancers standing on multicolored Jeeps. The former speaker’s son detailed a dream he had in which his father insisted that his memorial be hilarious. The funeral procession included the dancers, traditional totems, drummers, luxury cars, and flag bearers, all of which represented the politician’s love of crowded places. The practice of hiring pole dancers for memorials became popular in Taiwan in the 1980s, when the females were hired to cry at the processions. 

See Steve George & Jane Zhang, 50 Pole Dancers Escort Taiwan Politician’s Funeral Procession, CNN, January 6, 2017. 

 

January 7, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)