Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Article On Succession Issues For Multi Parent Children

ArticlePictureJudith F. Daar (Professor of Law, Whittier Law School) recently published an article entitled, Multi-Party Parenting in Genetics and Law: A View from Succession, 49 Fam. L.Q. 71-92 (2015). Provided below is an excerpt from the article:

In early 2014, two independent advances introduced the possibility of creating children with more than two genetic and legal parents. Researchers sought permission to proceed with human trials using “three-parent IVF,” a technique that would produce a child with three genetic parents. Concurrently, a newly enacted California law permits judges to recognize more than two parents when failure to do so would be a detriment to the child. Multi-parent families raise numerous questions about the well-being of the affected individuals but future impacts are rarely discussed. This article considers multi-party parenting through the lens of succession, the rights of heirs to succeed to property of a decedent who dies without a will. Using intestate models that pay homage to relationships forged by blood, marriage and adoption, this article assesses whether multi-parent families could or should be captured by existing schemes, governed by newly tailored schemes, or dismissed from succession altogether.   

November 25, 2015 in Articles, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 23, 2015

What Type Of Inheritance Can PC Children Receive?

EmbryoIf a child is born after a parent's death the inheritance that they would be entitled to receive will often depend on the circumstances and the laws of the State that they are in. There has been a relatively recent phenomena of children being conceived artificially after a parent's death. These children that are conceived artificially using modern reproductive technologies are referred to as “PC children.” This article discusses the Capato decision and the implications that it had on inheritance rights and survivor benefits under Social Security for PC children. The laws are different in each state so the inheritance rights for PC children are often not clear and can create difficult situations. It is very important for people making an estate plan to define descendants in their transfer documents and to clarify the status of any PC children that they might have. The 2012 Supreme Court Decision Astrue v. Capato can be read here.

See David Shayne, Benefits Due a Child Conceived After a Parent's Death Are Uncertain, Holland & Knight, November 19, 2015.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

November 23, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Science, Technology, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Court Rules Against California Woman Over Use Of Frozen Embryos

GeneticsA California court has ordered the destruction of embryos created for a woman with her then husbands sperm when she was facing loss of fertility due to chemo therapy. However, the embryos became the center of controversy when the woman divorced and her ex-husband requested the embryos be destroyed under the agreement the couple signed concerning their use after a seperation. The court stated that the consent form was valid and, as a result, there was nothing that could be done to allow the use of the embryos even though they were the women's last chance to procreate. In recent years, several cases along these lines have been decided with most of them reaching a similar conclusion. In the event a client is considering the preservation of fertilized eggs, make sure they understand the consequences divorce may have on the use of the embryos and check to see if they want a clause to allow for post separation use.

See Azeen Ghorayshi, A Judge Just Ruled That This Woman’s Frozen Embryos Must Be “Thawed And Discarded”, Buzzfeed, November 21, 2015.


November 23, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Non-Probate Assets, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 20, 2015

California Court Rules Against Divorced Woman In Frozen Embryo Battle

Mimi_Lee_3505421bI have previously discussed a California legal battle involving a divorced woman wanting to use the frozen embryos that she created with her former husband. Mimi Lee wanted to become pregnant using frozen embryos that she had created with her former husband Stephen Findley. She considered this to be her last chance to have biological children of her own. In a landmark decision a California Judge has held that Mimi Lee had to abide by an agreement that she could only use the embryos if the couple remained married. This case should have implications for other cases involving the issue of intro-vitro fertilization. The laws governing these types of modern reproductive techniques is continuing to evolve and people should be aware of the policies that exist in the jurisdictions that they live in.

See Robert Tait, Divorced woman loses fight to become pregnant through frozen embryos, The Telegraph, November 19, 2015.

November 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Underground Georgia Bunker On Sale For $17.5 Million

The facilityA massive underground bunker called “the facility” that is located in Southeast Georgia has been put on sale for $17.5 million. This property was built in 1969 and then was recently renovated to government standards in 2012. The underground apocalypse bunker is being listed by Sister Hood of Harry Norman, Realtors Buckhead Office, and according to them “it is the only hardened and privately owned underground bunker of its kind in the United States.” The massive facility has a 3-phase commercial power plant as well as its own solar backup system. The facility takes up 32-acres of land and has two levels of underground living space.

See Phil W. Hudson, Georgia Bunker ‘The Facility’ hits market for $17.5 million, Atlanta Business Chronicle, November 16, 2015.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

November 17, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Robin Williams’ Widow Claims He Had Dementia Before Death

Robin-williamsSusan Schneider Williams, the widow of late actor Robin Williams, has claimed in a recent interview that Robin Williams had suffered from dementia in the days leading up to his tragic death.  In the interview Susan Williams claimed that Robin Williams had Lewy body dementia, which is the second-most-common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s disease.  She claims that the disease was taking its toll on the actor in the final months of his life as he was experiencing heightened levels of anxiety, delusions and impaired movement.  About 1.3 million people struggle with Lewy body dementia.  The disease was named after Dr. Friedrich Heinrich Lewy, the scientist who is known for identifying these protein deposits in the brain that are related to the disease. 

See Robin Williams’ widow says actor had dementia before suicide, San Francisco Gate, November 3, 2015.

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

November 4, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Dementia End Of Life Care Cost Dwarf Other Diseases Report Shows

DementiaA new study has revealed that Dementia patients shoulder a much higher burden when it comes to end of life care cost compared to other diseases such as cancer and heart disease. With an average cost of $287,000 for the last five years of life, sufferers pay about %38 more than those with cancer and heart disease with out of pocket cost representing up to an addition %81 in cost. This cost disparity comes with a further burden as the care required is not covered by Medicare, as opposed to most other afflictions. This lack of coverage will often wipe out retirement saving and financially harm relatives who often have to provide free care to supplement whatever professional services are affordable. With a projected 13 million Americans expected to suffer from dementia by 2050, this problem will become a major concern for all estate planners especially those with clients that have family histories of the condition.

See Tara Bahrampour, End-of-life care vastly more expensive for dementia patients than for others, Washington Post, October 26, 2015.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret for bringing this article to my attention.

October 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Russian Government Will Exhume Tsar Alexander III’s Remains For Investigation

RomonovsThe Russian government has announced that it will exhume the remains of Tsar Alexander III in an attempt to resolve a dispute over the identity of remains that are thought to belong to Nicholas II’s children Alexei and Maria.  The Russian royal family was shot by Bolsheviks in 1918 and their bodies were thrown into a mine-shaft and then burnt and buried in the city of Yekaterinburg.  The remains of the royal couple and three of their daughters were discovered in 1998 and then officially identified seven years later before being reburied in Saint Petersburg.  A second grave was discovered in 2007 containing what is thought to be the remains of Alexei and Maria.  The Russian government needs to positively identify the remains before they can be buried in Saint Petersburg. 

See Russia to exhume Tsar Alexander III in slain Romanovs probe, Borneo Post Online, October 27, 2015.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention. 

October 27, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Human Chimera Fools DNA Based Paternity Test

GeneticsChimera's are people that have two distinct sets of DNA and are usually a result of the person absorbing an unborn twin early in gestation. In the vast majority of cases, this little twist will remain unnoticed due to the fact that only a handful of organs are affected by the change which allows the trait to remain unnoticed. However, a U.S. man was one of the few who would notice when he discovered that he is not the father of his newborn infant but rather it's "uncle." In this case, his sperm carried the DNA of his absorbed twin which, on a genetic level, made the man not the father. This is the first reported instance of sperm containing the twin's DNA although a women recently had a similar situation when her ovaries contained the DNA of her twin. The baby is reportedly in good health and should suffer no complications going into the future.

See Shehab Kahn, 'Human chimera': Man fails paternity test because genes in his saliva are different to those in sperm, Independent, October 26, 2015.

Special thanks to Riley Branch for bringing this article to my attention.

October 27, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Science | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

How DNA Verification Is Being Used To Fight Art Forgery

DNA verificationThere has been an increase in the number of high-profile art forgery cases, and the problem is costing collectors and institutions billions of dollars.  The University of Albany and Aris insurers have come up with a marking technology that could provide works of art with a unique synthetic DNA tag.  This new DNA marking technology may provide a way for collectors verify disputed artworks beyond a reasonable doubt in a matter of seconds. 

The company would develop labels that contain genetically engineered tags that would be stuck onto the artwork.  At a cost of only $150 the DNA labels would provide a very affordable way to verify the authenticity of the art (considering the high cost of many works of art).  Art forgery is a big problem in the collector’s world and this technology will hopefully assist buyers and collectors in making the right choices. 

See Henri Neuendorf, Can DNA Verification End Art Forgery Forever?, Art Net News, October 12, 2015.

October 13, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)