Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

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)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Judge THROWS OUT Lawsuit Filed by Sofia Vergara's Own Embryos As Part of Her Ex-Fiancée’s Legal Battle over Frozen Eggs That He Named Emma and Isabella

VergaraA Louisiana judge dismissed a case filed against Sofia Vergara by her ex-fiancée, Nick Loeb. Loeb and Vergara had two viable embryos frozen while they were dating. Loeb wants to find a surrogate for the embryos, which he has already named. Vergara wants them to remain frozen. Vergara is pointing to the original agreement the couple signed dictating both she and Loeb would need to provide consent for the embryos to be implanted. Whoever wins this legal battle, victory will not be found in the Bayou State. The judge held that the Louisiana court did not have jurisdiction over the embryos as they were conceived in California.

See Kaileen Gaul, Judge THROWS OUT Lawsuit Filed by Sofia Vergara's Own Embryos As Part of Her Ex-Fiancée’s Legal Battle over Frozen Eggs That He Named Emma and Isabella, Daily Mail.com, August 25, 2017.

August 29, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 4, 2017

I Saved an Old Man’s Life. He Didn’t Want It.

UpHerb Lee, a vibrant eighty-seven-year-old grandfather, had gone out to dinner. There was something off with the food, as Lee spent the entire night vomiting. He went to the emergency room the next morning where doctors diagnosed him with pneumonia and kidney failure; Lee had aspirated some of the food particles. He had low blood pressure and was suffering from severe sciatica pain that had been exacerbated by an extended repose on a hospital gurney. Owing to low blood pressure, doctors could not administer pain medication to relieve his tremendous suffering.

Prior to this hospital visit, Lee had been extremely clear with his family about how he wanted to be treated in such a situation. He did not want to be resuscitated or placed on a feeding or breathing tube. Perhaps fortunately for Herb, his grandson-in-law, Jeremy Topin, was one of his attending physicians. In total disregard for Herb wishes, Topin ordered Lee placed on a breathing tube; Lee’s life was saved. Topin had looked as objectively at the situation as was possible and understood that Lee’s condition was treatable and curable. Lee went home a little over six weeks after the incident.

Months later, at a family dinner, Topin asked Lee if he had made the right decision. Lee looked at him and said, “I wouldn’t want to go through that again.” The response shook Topin. He had thought of his act as an unequivocal win: Lee had been saved and was able to spend more time with family and loved ones. Still a physician, Topin now shares this story with families struggling to decide how to handle these emergencies.

See Jeremy Topin, I Saved an Old Man’s Life. He Didn’t Want It., The Washington Post, July 29, 2017.

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

August 4, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Scientists Reawaken Memory in Mice That Had a Condition Resembling Alzheimer’s

MaxresdefaultExperiments by Christine Denny at Columbia University have resulted in researchers reawakening forgotten memories in mice. Scientists have long thought that individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease were losing memories; that individual neurons storing memories were actually being erased. Through the aid of genetically engineered mice, researchers have found this is not actually the case.

Denny's research team conducted an experiment in which mice were introduced to a lemon scent and then shocked. Genetically engineered mice with brain dysfunction similar to Alzheimer’s did not react the next time the smelled the lemon scent. The lack of reaction was an indication they were not recalling the correct memory. Through the use of lasers, researchers stimulated neurons associated with the lemon scent. The next time these mice were exposed to the smell, they reacted in anticipation to the electric shock. The study is ground-breaking and brings with it hope that memories in Alzheimer’s patients might be reactivated.

See Alice Klein, Scientists Reawaken Memory in Mice That Had a Condition Resembling Alzheimer’s, The Washington Post, July 29, 2017.

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

August 4, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Want to Live FOREVER? Major Breakthrough in Cryogenic Freezing

The-time-machineThe chance to see what the world will be like in 200 or 300 hundred years, once a fancy belonging to the realm of science-fiction, has just become a more realistic possibility. Scientists in the US were able to freeze zebra embryos to sub-zero temperatures and then successfully revive them. Although only 10% of the embryos were viable after being brought back from their frozen state, this marks a huge milestone for the cryogenics industry.

Prior tests had been routinely unsuccessful as the gradual warming of the frozen embryos caused a lethal formation of ice crystals. With the addition of gold nano-rods heated by laser, the warming process became much faster. This allowed for some of the embryos to survive defrosting and continue to grow as normal. If perfected, this process has far-reaching implications, one of which is prolonged space travel. Currently, there are concerns that isolation in space over long distances might lead to mental instability. If astronauts could be cryogenically frozen and then awakened at journey’s end, the possibility of a mental breakdown, in addition to lower food, water, and oxygen consumption, would be significantly reduced.

See Sean Martin Want to Live FOREVER? Major Breakthrough in Cryogenic Freezing, Express, August 3, 2017.

August 3, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 28, 2017

CTE Diagnosed in 99% of Former NFL Players Studied by Researchers

104607861-GettyImages-489282168-mike-webster.530x298Of 111 former NFL players whose brains were donated for research purposes, 110 were diagnosed with the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Of the total 202 brains studied, 87% were diagnosed with the disease. The donated brains came from former high school, college, NFL, Canadian Football League, and semipro football players. The authors of the study wrote in a report: “The findings suggest that CTE may be related to prior participation in football, and that a high level of play may be related to substantial disease burden."

The study also found that the most common cause of death among those diagnosed with mild form of CTE was suicide. Among those found to have more severe forms of CTE, a neurodegenerative-related cause of death was most common. Researchers currently believe that certain behavioral and mood symptoms may be indicators of an early onset of the disease. As of now, the only means to determine if CTE is present in the brain is through a post-mortem examination.

See A. J. Perez, CTE Diagnosed in 99% of Former NFL Players Studied by Researchers, CNBC, July 25, 2017.

Special thanks to Davis S. Luber, Florida Probate Attorney, for bringing this article to my attention.

July 28, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)