Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Vatican Publishes New Guidelines for Catholics Wishing to be Cremated

Burial v. cremationOn Tuesday, the Vatican published guidelines for Catholics who want to be cremated, requiring their remains not be scattered, divided up amongst relatives, or kept at home. Any remains must be stored in a sacred, church-approved place in order to remember the dead properly and prevent the appearance of “pantheism, naturalism or nihilism.” The guidelines, however, state that burial remains the preferred method due to resurrection beliefs. 

See Vatican: No More Scattering of Cremation Ashes, Yahoo!, October 25, 2016. 

Special thanks to Logan Fuzetti (Attorney, The Woodlands, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.  


October 26, 2016 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Terminally Ill Mom Wants to be the Face of the Right to Live Movement

Right to liveStephanie Packer, a terminally ill mom of four, wants to be the face of the Right to Live movement, opposing the well-known Right to Die movement. Recently, Packer’s home state of California passed the law permitting doctor-assisted suicide, allowing terminally ill patients to forgo a painful end of life. Packer, however, wants to fight to live before ultimately accepting a natural end. She wants her kids to know that death is a part of life. 

See Terminally Ill Mom Denied Treatment Coverage— but Gets Suicide Drug Approved, Fox News: Health, October 24, 2016. 


October 25, 2016 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 14, 2016

The New Wave of Cremation

CremationFor the first time, half of Americans could be cremated—almost double the rate of fifteen years ago. One reason for this is more Americans are putting less emphasis on religion to direct their burial. Additionally, the savings a family retains from cremation can be substantial at up to $5,000. However, it is beneficial to do some comparison shopping when looking to cremate, allowing the family to ward off financial grief later. 

See Ted Knutson, Social Stigma of Cremation Going Up in Smoke, Financial Advisor, October 11, 2016. 

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


October 14, 2016 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Family Sues Funeral Home After Loved Ones Remains Found in Garage 2 Years Later

CremateAfter a woman died in March of 2013, her family contracted with Living Waters Funeral Home to cremate the body. Two years later, the woman’s corpse was found along with three other bodies in a suburban Chicago garage. The family is now suing, claiming the defendants handled the remains in an unlawful manner in violation of the contract. The man’s garage that the remains were found in had some connection with the funeral home and previously had similar issues. 

See Elizabeth Armstrong Moore, Family Sues Mortuary After Body Was Found in Garage After 2 Years, Fox News, October 11, 2016. 


October 12, 2016 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Desmond Tutu Speaks Out About His Thoughts on Assisted Dying

TutuDesmond Tutu called on politicians, lawmakers, and religious leaders to take action and help him along with many others to be afforded the option of ending their life through assisted dying. The emeritus archbishop of Cape Town has spent his last year in and out of the hospital with recurring infections. He argues that terminally ill individuals should be treated with the same compassion and fairness when choosing their death. Additionally, these terminally ill should be allowed to control the manner and timing of their death. Knowing that the option of assisted death is available can provide immeasurable comfort to the individual and their loved ones.  

See Harriet Sherwood, Desmond Tutu: I Want Right to End My Life Through Assisted Dying, Guardian, October 7, 2016. 

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


October 9, 2016 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

D.C. Assisted Suicide Legislation Faces Vote Today

D.c.Today, legislation that allows doctors to help terminally ill residents in D.C. to end their lives will face a crucial vote. Proponents of physician-assisted suicide are hopeful that the nation’s capital will be the next jurisdiction to allow this controversial piece of legislation. The proposal is modeled after Oregon’s system for assisted suicide with the same requirements. Ultimately, the legislation faces uncertain progression if it advances to the full council. 

See Fenit Nirappil, Assisted Suicide Legislation Faces Key Vote in D.C. Council, Washington Post, October 4, 2016. 

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  


October 5, 2016 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Article on Religion and End-of-Life Care

Religion end of lifeNaomi Cahn & Amy Ziettlow recently published an Article entitled, Religion and End-of-Life Decision-Making, 2016 U. Ill. L. Rev. 1713 (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

This Article analyzes the relationship between religion and end-of-life care. We examine the private role that religion plays in individuals’ decision-making processes and the public role that religion plays through state support. We first discuss how the law approaches these issues by looking at both the legal grounding and ratification of surrogates’ decisions, and at public funding for hospice chaplains, showing that the law supports an individual’s choices concerning the desired impact (or nonimpact) of religious beliefs and practices. We then show how these laws are interpreted and lived, specifically in how surrogates handle end-of-life decision-making, based on empirical data obtained directly through in-depth interviews with those who have experienced the death of their parents. Religion profoundly affects end-of-life decision-making on a personal level, and various laws support religious-based reasoning. On the other hand, the present uncertainties surrounding the application of Hobby Lobby can compound the traumatic experiences of those involved, regardless of their religious (or nonreligious) beliefs and practices. Solutions involve additional legal support for end-of-life conversations.


October 4, 2016 in Articles, Death Event Planning, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Benefits of a Living Will

Living willMany important decisions are made in the final weeks, moths, and years of a patient’s life. Therefore, it is important to be informed on advance directive documents. Advance directives help people make decisions on how they would want to be cared for if they were unable to make that decision on their own. The most common advance directive? A living will. Some advantages of a living will include giving people greater control over their life and death, promoting honest conversations with family, and preventing legal battles. 

See Amy Florian, What Advisors Need to Know About Living Wills, Wealth Management, September 27, 2016. 


October 2, 2016 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

New York Allows People to Be Buried with Their Pets

Forever with fidoNew York is now allowing pet owners to be buried with the cremated remains of their pet. Governor Cuomo signed the proposal into law on Monday. Cemeteries do not have to offer the option, and religious cemeteries are forbidden from offering it. This law comes at the tail end of a series of measures that honor the bond between human and beast in New York.

See Forever with Fido: New York to Allow People to Be Buried with Pets, NBC New York, September 27, 2016. 


September 27, 2016 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Religion | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 19, 2016

First Minor Granted Euthanasia in Belgium

EuthenasiaTwo years ago, Belgium rescinded the age restrictions on euthanasia, and now, the first terminally ill minor has been assisted to die. Currently, Belgium is the only country that allows minors to be assisted in dying. The law, however, is quite strict, requiring the minor to be in the final stages of terminal illness; understand rationally the difference between life and death; and ask to end their life on repeated occasions. Additionally, another requirement for these minors is to have parental consent along with the consent of two doctors. Not surprisingly, this law comes with much opposition. 

See Belgium Sees First Case of Minor Being Granted Euthanasia, Fox News, September 17, 2016.

September 19, 2016 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, New Legislation | Permalink | Comments (0)