Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Court Permits Woman To Use Frozen Embryos Despite Sperm Donors Objections

Frozen embryoAn appeals court in Chicago has held that a woman may use embryos that she created with her ex-boyfriend despite his objections.  Karla Dunston, whose fertility was destroyed by cancer treatment, created frozen embryos with the sperm of her former boyfriend, Jacob Szasfranski.  The Court held that there was an oral agreement between the two parties, and it held that Dr. Dunston’s interest in using the embryos outweighed Mr. Szasfranski’s interest in not having them used.  In these sorts of disputes past Courts have tended to side with the party that does not want the embryos used.  Mr. Szasfranski intends to appeal the Chicago Courts decision. 

See Tamar Lewin, Chicago Court Gives Woman Frozen Embryos Despite Ex-Boyfriends Objections, The New York Times, June 12, 2015. 

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

Saturday, May 23, 2015

HRSA Publishes Final Rule Implementing HOPE Act

T_HRSA01The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), has recently published a final rule concerning the HIV Organ Policy Equity Act (HOPE Act).  The act will modify the standards used by the Organ Procurement Transplantation Network (OPTN), and will permit organs from an individual with HIV to be transplanted into another person who is also infected with the virus as long as they participate in clinical research conducted by a review board.  The HOPE Act will give the Secretary of the HRSA discretion to decide on the criteria of the research.

See Debra A. Mccurdy, Final Rule Implements HIV Organ Policy Equity Act, Health Industry Washington Watch, May 20, 2015.

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

May 23, 2015 in Current Affairs, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Parents Should Register Surrogate Children Who Were Born Abroad To Avoid Legal Problems

SurrogateA British high court judge has warned that the growing number of children born overseas through surrogacy could create “a ticking legal time bomb.”  Judge Dame Lucy Theis warns that if parents do not fill out a court sanctioned parental order application their children could end up “stateless and parentless.”  Without a parental order the child’s surrogate mother could possibly be recognized as the child’s actual parent creating a number of complex legal problems involving British citizenship.  The Judge would like parents to become more aware of the need to register a parental order as this method of reproduction continues to expand. 

See Owen Bowcott, Unregistered Surrogate-Born Children Creating ‘Legal Timebomb,’ Judge Warns, Guardian, May 18, 2015.   

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

May 20, 2015 in Current Affairs, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Composting Human Corpses

SeedlingCurrently, many farms and some state transportation departments are composting dead animals. If the Urban Death Project is successful composting dead bodies may include human ones. A research project headed by Katrina Spade in Seattle is working on a method to compost human remains.

Spade envisions the creation of Urban Death Facilities that will include individuals ceremoniously placing their deceased loved ones in the facility where the body will be composted, and then the family can retrieve some of the compost to use in their garden or to plant a memorial tree. Each core of the facility could hold up to 30 bodies. Spade is still developing the technique, and after it is developed there will be social and legal barriers to face in order to make this environmentally friendly process a reality.

See Catrin Einhorn, A Project to Turn Corpses Into Compost, New York Times, Apr. 13, 2015.

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

April 15, 2015 in Death Event Planning, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Article on Inheritance of Frozen Reproductive Material

McQuainElise N. McQuain (Associate Attorney, Goodwin & Goodwin, LLP, Charleston, West Virginia) recently published an article entitled, Inheritance of Frozen Reproductive Material, 40 Ohio N.U.L. Rev. 301. Provided below is an excerpt from the introduction of the article:

No obvious similarities exist between a soldier leaving for war, a woman seeking a graduate degree, a same sex couple, and a man diagnosed with cancer. Closer examination, however, reveals that these people may all have reasons to take advantage of cryopreservation. Cryopreservation can make conception a technological possibility when it is no longer possible naturally. 1 Many people cherish the idea of having children; however, a considerable number face situations that jeopardize that idea. 2

Cryopreservation is the freezing of reproductive material and is used concurrently with artificial insemination to produce children. 3 Questions regarding disposition of the frozen reproductive cells arise when a depositor of reproductive material dies and leaves behind the frozen cells. 4 Courts have struggled to address this challenge, which technological advances have created. 5 Traditional estate solutions relating to property and money seem inadequate when addressing cells with the potential for human life.

This article argues that depositors have the fundamental right to control whether they procreate after death. The best method of protecting that right is to ensure that fertility clinics, sperm banks, loved ones, executors, and courts know and honor a depositor's wishes concerning the disposition of his or her reproductive material after death. 6 The best way to effectuate that protection is to require all depositors to execute a "death clause document" at the fertility clinic or storage bank used for storage. 7 A “death clause document” is an instrument that clearly states the wishes of the depositor in case the depositor dies while his or her reproductive material is still in storage.8 This article lays out the appropriate format and execution procedure for the death clause document in order to ensure that it will be recognized as a will substitute. Using a uniform document that addresses all of the concerns and contingencies of depositor death permits the fertility clinic or storage bank to easily ascertain and follow the individual’s wishes regarding disposition of his or her reproductive cells.

March 5, 2015 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Three Parent Babies Opposed by EU MEPs

LawAs I have previously discussed, in early February Britain's House of Commons voted in favor of a bill that would allow the genetic modification of babies to prevent birth defects, which would result in the children having the DNA of three individuals.  In response, 50 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voiced their concern over the proposed law through a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron. The letter describes the procedure as a violation of human dignity and that the "proposals violate the fundamental standards of human dignity and integrity of the person. Modification of the genome is unethical and cannot be permitted."

See Sarah Knapton, Three Parent Babies: Britain Has Breached EU Law, MEPs Warn, The Telegraph, Feb. 21, 2015.

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

March 4, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Study on Tax Subsidies, Charitable Giving, Health

HealthA recent research study authored by Baris K. Yörük and published in the Journal of Economic Psychology looked at the link between tax subsidies and health. The study combined ideas that charitable giving increases health of the donor and charitable tax subsidies increase charitable giving, and the results suggest that increasing charitable tax subsidies will result in better self-reported health.

See Lisa Ward, Does Charitable Giving Lead to Better Health?, The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 1, 2015.

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

February 5, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

25 Years of Organ Donations Equal 2.2M Years of Saved Lives

HealthA recently published study in Jama Surgery entitled Survival Benefit of Solid-Organ Transplant in the United States calculated the life saving impact of organ donations. According to the study, organ transplants done in the last 25 years in America have given the gift of an additional 2.2 million years of life. On average a single organ transplant results in an additional 4.3 years of life to the recipient.

See Arden Dier, Newser, Organ Donors Have Added 2.2M Years to American Lives, Fox News, Jan. 30, 2015.

February 3, 2015 in Articles, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Future Alzheimer's Diagnosis May be Predicted by Blood Test

Blood testNew research on Alzheimer's detection has revealed that a blood test can detect the disease 10 years prior to diagnosis. The researchers that tested for the protein IRS-1 in 174 individuals were able to predict whether each individual had Alzheimer's, even when diagnosis of the disease was 10 years away. The research has raised ethical questions over whether it is more harmful than helpful for individuals to know years in the future that they will develop the disease without any clear preventative measures to take.

See Stephanie Guzowski, Predicting Alzheimer's Disease With Blood Tests: Early Detection, Ethical Concerns, Bioscience Technology, Dec. 4, 2014.

January 9, 2015 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Science | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Dying Over Divorce


According to a new study, divorce could kill you. 

This research comes as lawyers get ready for a surge in inquiries from married couples planning to split up after the holidays.  The number of people wanting to start divorce proceedings is said to peak on the first working Monday after New Year—dubbed “Divorce Day.” 

A growing body of research links divorce to negative health effects and early death.  Authors of a study published in the journal Health Psychology suggest divorce related sleep troubles are partly to blame.  “In the initial few months after a separation, sleep problems are probably pretty normal, and this is an adjustment process that people can typically cope with well.  But sleep problems that persist for an extended period may mean something different.  It may mean that people are potentially becoming depressed, that they’re struggling with getting their life going again, and it is these people that are particularly susceptible to health problems.” 

See Angus Howarth, Why Getting Divorce Could Just Kill You, The Scotsman, Jan. 3, 2015. 

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

January 3, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)