Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Article on Freezing the Future: Elective Egg Freezing and the Limits of the Medical Expense Deduction

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-04-14/e16cbde6-9d9b-48fc-9060-ca58180d4aa8.pngTessa Davis published an Article entitled, Freezing the Future: Elective Egg Freezing and the Limits of the Medical Expense Deduction, Tax Law: Tax Law & Policy eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Section 213 of the Internal Revenue Code (the Code) allows a deduction for unreimbursed expenses for medical care. To qualify as medical care, an individual’s outlay must meet the statutory definition of “medical care” set forth in §213. Specifically, an outlay must be for care that is either for “the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body.” Many costs raise few interpretive challenges. When an individual receives chemotherapy, for example, the costs tied to that care clearly satisfy the disease prong of §213. But as medicine advances, emerging technologies test the breadth of the Code’s concept of medical care. This Article examines the case of elective egg freezing — an increasingly available technology and, in some cases, a new employer-provided benefit — analyzing the likely treatment of such costs under current law. More broadly, this Article argues that the Internal Revenue Service’s (the Service) treatment of elective egg freezing under §213 will clarify its position on when reproductive care is qualifying medical care, its view on the proper scope of the structure/function prong, and may be predictive of its approach to emerging medical technologies. Because the Service’s chosen categorization could establish important and far-reaching precedent, this Article lays the groundwork for a principled discussion of the doctrinal and policy concerns at issue in categorizing elective egg freezing and similar emergent medical technologies.

April 14, 2018 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 2, 2018

Farewell To a Genius: Stephen Hawking’s Family Say Their Last Goodbyes As Thousands Line the Streets of Cambridge for the Physicists Funeral, Where Eddie Redmayne Paid Tribute To the Scientist He Played on Screen

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-04-02/45d6a2ab-91e6-4e4c-979a-fc7ebfbf3d8d.pngThousands of mourners lined the streets of Cambridge last week to say farewell to Stephen Hawking, the renowned theoretical physicist who passed away in March. Though Hawking was a professed atheist, the ceremony was a traditional Anglican service. His family believed it would offer a better opportunity for friends and Hawking’s many fans to pay tribute. A spontaneous round of applause greeted porters when they carried the coffin from the hearse to the church as the gathered crowd showed their appreciation for Hawking and his work. The bell of the church tolled seventy-six times, once for each year of Hawking’s life.

See Rod Ardehali, Farewell To a Genius: Stephen Hawking’s Family Say Their Last Goodbyes As Thousands Line the Streets of Cambridge for the Physicists Funeral, Where Eddie Redmayne Paid Tribute To the Scientist He Played on Screen, Daily Mail.com, March 31, 2018.

April 2, 2018 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Secret To a Longer Life? Don’t Ask These Dead Longevity Researchers

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-03-22/fa99fdf9-f253-4a9e-9ee5-d2b6a808bf25.pngGeologist Anatoli Brouchkov harvested bacteria several years ago that had managed to survive in the Artic permafrost over eons. These bacteria, when injected into female mice, seemingly worked to extend their youth. Dr. Brouchkov, in a fit of scientific ardor, decided to ingest some of the bacteria. When questioned regarding the sagacity of his actions, he responded with a laugh, saying, “I was just curious.” Perhaps not the norm, Dr. Brouchkov is one of many scientists in the field of longevity and anti-aging research looking to find the key to a long, youthful life. And though his modus operandi may be questionable, others in the field engage in some similarly unique self-experimentation.  

See Pagan Kennedy, The Secret To a Longer Life? Don’t Ask These Dead Longevity Researchers, The New York Times, March 9, 2018.

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 22, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Barbra Streisand Cloned Her Dog. For $50,000, You Can Clone Yours.

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-03-06/b0241401-9c97-4f06-ae03-debbe4b7506f.pngVariety recently published a 2,800-word article about Barbra Streisand and her continuing and past efforts to influence Hollywood’s “boys’ club.” Despite the electrifying subject matter, a brief aside during the interview has garnered some additional, and perhaps unexpected, attention. In it, Streisand mentions that two of her three Coton de Tulear dogs are clones. Miss Scarlett and Miss Violet were created from mouth and stomach cells harvested from Streisand’s late pup, Samantha. Streisand said that the pair “have different personalities” and she is “waiting for them to get older so I can see if they have her brown eyes and her seriousness.” Though this procedure is not yet commonplace, pet owners interested in creating Rover II need only $50,000 bones to cover the cost of the procedure.

See Matt Stevens, Barbra Streisand Cloned Her Dog. For $50,000, You Can Clone Yours., The New York Times, February 28, 2018.

March 7, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Could You Live Forever? Humans Will Achieve IMMORTALITY Using AI and Genetic Engineering by 2050, Expert Claims

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-02-20/6826a66f-caa0-4460-84a8-2f46d7b8a51c.pngThe great bane of the human condition has always been the ever-increasing disparity between the mind’s continuing evolution paired with the body’s painful degradation and decay. What could we have done at age 20 with the experience and wisdom we now possess? According to Dr. Ian Pearson, this age-old problem may not be an issue in the future. No longer will the old and weary, those who’s tongues forked no lighting, need to rage against the dying of the light. Pearson predicts that by 2050, improvements in genetic engineering may grant humans near-immortality by reversing or reducing the ageing of cells. Pearson commented on these possible advances: “There are quite a lot of people interested in living forever. There always has been, but the difference now is tech is improving so quickly, lots of people believe they can actually do it.”

See Joe Pinkstone, Could You Live Forever? Humans Will Achieve IMMORTALITY Using AI and Genetic Engineering by 2050, Expert Claims, DailyMail.com, February 19, 2018.

February 20, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 26, 2018

Chinese Scientists Clone Two Monkeys, Humans May Be Next

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-01-26/340907c1-8c3a-41f1-9dc8-a8106bb9c05a.pngChinese scientists have broken a technical barrier that increases the potential for human clones by successfully cloning a pair of monkeys. These scientists implemented the same techniques used to create Dolly the sheep over two decades ago. The pair of identical long-tailed macaques, Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, were born six and eight weeks ago. Their entrance into the world represents the first time primates have been cloned from a non-embryonic cell. This feat was achieved through a process known as somatic cell nuclear transfer. This procedure entails the transfer of a cell's nucleus, DNA included, into an egg that has had its nucleus removed. 

See Reuters, Chinese Scientists Clone Two Monkeys, Humans May Be Next, Newsweek, January 25, 2018.

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

January 26, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Estate Planning for Users of Assisted Reproductive Technology

"Well, it certainly looks like your DNA. How many times have I told you to wear gloves before touching anything?"Assisted reproduction generally refers to any means of conceiving a child outside traditional sexual intercourse. Collectively, such modes of contraception are referred to as “assisted reproductive technologies” (ART). Decades of technological advances in this field are forcing families to consider difficult issues related to the creation of ART children and the preservation of genetic material that could lead to the creation of ART children.

See Wendy S. Goffe & Kim Kamin, Estate Planning for Users of Assisted Reproductive Technology, Think Advisor, October 4, 2017.

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

January 6, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 29, 2017

Strife After Death

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2017-12-28/1a979871-b8f8-4960-b4d8-3ea921ae2ec7.pngOnly one in every ten wills is ever contested. But, these odds increase dramatically when the decedent’s estate contains significant wealth. When high-net-worth individuals are laid to rest, friends and family begin to discover the inherent unfairness in the decedent’s final disposition of assets. In some cases, legal battles and fighting can tear families apart while the estate lawyers reap the benefit of the discord.

Baseball legend Ted Williams is an unfortunate paradigm of such post-mortem bickering. His will provided for his remains to be cremated and then scattered in the Florida Keys. His son and daughter from his third marriage presented the court with a signed note saying that their father wanted to be frozen in case scientific progress might someday bring him back to life. As of today, Williams’s severed head and body await reanimation in Arizona.

See Ian T. Shearn, Strife After Death, Financial Advisor, December 15, 2017.

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

December 29, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Woman, 26, Has Baby Born from Record-Breaking 24-year-old Frozen Embryo

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2017-12-20/0e41aec2-eeaf-4760-902d-f1640ef90f60.pngThe sweetly adorable Emma Wren was born to parents Benjamin and Tina Gibson on November 25th of this year. She weighed in at a svelte six pounds, eight ounces. Seemingly an ordinary baby, little Emma’s cherub-like appearance belies that fact that she originated from the oldest-recorded frozen embryo to successfully be implanted and to result in birth. The embryo from which she came was taken from her mother in 1992, when Tina Gibson was just a year-and-a-half old.  NEDC Lab Director Carol Sommerfelt commented on the joyful event: “It is deeply moving and highly rewarding to see that embryos frozen 24.5 years ago using the old, early cryo-preservation techniques of slow freezing on day one of development at the pronuclear stage can result in 100% survival of the embryos with a 100% continued proper development to the day-3 embryo stage.”

See Woman, 26, Has Baby Born from Record-Breaking 24-year-old Frozen Embryo, CBS Baltimore, December 19, 2017.

December 20, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Yours, Mine, Ours, and ‘ART’

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2017-12-06/d6a8b6cd-62e4-4b4b-af2b-f2e45cc1d1a0.pngIt is becoming more and more common for trustees and estate planners to have clients that have been through marriage multiple times. These clients may have children from a previous marriage, stepchildren, and adopted children, all having different sets of biological parents and grandparents. These blended families can be incredibly complex. To make matters more convoluted, assisted reproductive technologies (ART) have made it possible to add children to a marriage through a variety of technological measures. But, while state laws have kept pace with radical changes in American family dynamics over the past few decades, laws relating to ART kids are not well developed. There is substantial variation in how each state views surrogacy and gestational carrier agreements and whether a child born after the death of a parent should inherit under a trust or the decedent’s estate. However, through informed and careful decision-making, estate planners can their help clients reach a plan that accommodates these new and constantly changing reproductive advances.

See Judith Saxe, Yours, Mine, Ours, and ‘ART’, Financial Advisor, September 13, 2017.

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

December 6, 2017 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Science, Technology, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)