Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Can We Stop Alzheimer’s Disease?

Fighting-BacteriaThe power of innovation to solve seemingly insurmountable health issues is undeniable. The advent and introduction of penicillin has prevented in excess of 82 million infection-related deaths. When John Enders developed the measles vaccine, he started on a path that would see over 120 million lives saved. Among the most notable and terrifying afflictions today is Alzheimer’s disease. Without some new treatment, the threat of this burden rests on the shoulders of families and the American health system. In order to avoid this individual, family, and societal crisis, it is imperative that research and development efforts are increased before the weight of this burden becomes unmanageable.

See Bill Gates, Can We Stop Alzheimer’s Disease?, gatesnotes, November 13, 2017.

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

November 15, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Article on Inheritance and the Posthumously Conceived Child (2017) Conveyancing and Property Lawyer (November)

In-vitro-fertilization-the-milan-court-rejects-lawNeil Maddox recently posted an Article entitled, Inheritance and the Posthumously Conceived Child (2017) Conveyancing and Property Lawyer (November), Wills, Trusts, & Estate Law eJournal (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

A child may be born after the death of its natural father. That has always been the case. Modern advances in technology now create a new possibility and a child may be both conceived and born after the death of its father. This creates many legal complexities and uncertainties, one of which relates to the posthumously conceived child’s capacity to inherit from the deceased father’s estate. This article examines the novel legal questions that arise in relation to such children and succession. In particular, the extent to which sperm is inheritable, the obstacles faced by posthumously conceived children in inheriting from the natural father and the circumstances when a duty to provide for the child from the estate will arise.

 

November 4, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

California Looks to “Green-ify Death After Brown Signs Water-Cremation Bill

81XZuf2+T1L._SY450_Californians may be able to opt for water-cremation as early as 2020 thanks to a bill recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown. Water cremation is currently legal in fourteen states and does not use fossil fuels or produce carbon emissions like traditional cremation. The process entails placing the deceased into a pod-like vat and then immersing the remains in an alkaline solution for at least four hours at a temperature of around 300 degrees. While traditional cremation leaves behind ash, water-cremation leaves behind a brown fluid with a consistency similar to syrup.

See Edmunde DeMarche, California Looks to “Green-ify Death After Brown Signs Water-Cremation Bill, Fox News, October 19, 2017.

October 24, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Poor Sense of Smell May Signal Impending Dementia

1485711158327While there are a few benefits to decreased olfactory sensitivity, researchers have determined that a difficulty identifying certain smells may be early an indicator of dementia. In a study of 2,906 men and women between the ages of 57 and 85, two consistent factors in the 4.1% of subjects who eventually developed dementia were a decline in overall cognitive ability and poor performance the “smell test.” Dr. Jayant M. Pinto, who specializes in diseases affecting the sinuses, cautioned that “sensory function is an indicator of brain function. When sensory function declines, it can be a signal to have a more detailed examination to see if everything’s O.K.”

See Nicholas Bakalar, Poor Sense of Smell May Signal Impending Dementia, The New York Times, October 3, 2017.

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

October 11, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)