Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Why Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Today is so Difficult—and How we can do Better

TreeBill Gates announced seven months ago that he would begin investing in Alzheimer's research and the response has been overwhelming. He has learned that the diagnosis process is "less than ideal," invasive, and experience - an initial cognitive test, then a determination if there are any other possible causes for memory loss, such as a stroke or a nutritional deficiency. If those are ruled out, a spinal tap or PET scan can be relied upon. Unfortunately many insurance policies will not reimburse for Alzheimer's exams.

The harsh truth is that currently a 100% confirmation of Alzheimer's is not currently possible until an autopsy is performed.

A point of contention is that patients are not tested for the disease until they are already starting to show signs of cognitive decline. Research suggests Alzheimer’s starts damaging the brain more than a decade before symptoms start showing. That’s probably when we need to start treating people to have the best shot at an effective drug.

See Bill Gates, Why Diagnosing Alzheimer’s Today is so Difficult—and How we can do Better, Bill Gates, July 17, 2018.

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

July 18, 2018 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Sixth Municipality in Massachusetts to Call for Death with Dignity Legislation

CapecodOn Monday Falmouth in Massachusetts became the sixth municipality in the state to agree to pass a resolution to request the legislature to legalize allowing terminally ill patients to receive life-ending medication from their medical practitioner. Commonly known as physician-assisted suicide or Death with Dignity, the practice is legal in several United State jurisdictions including Washington, Vermont, and Colorado.

It may be an uphill battle, however. In 2012 voters narrowly defeated a referendum that would have allowed the practice, and in 2017 a medical aid in dying bill did not make it past the public health committee. Right-to-life groups and the Catholic Church are also strongly opposed to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide, fearing it will be used to contain expenditures of costly medical treatments.

There is support for Death with Dignity laws by the medical world, as the American Medical Society declined to reaffirm its opposition to the practice and the Massachusetts Medical Society officially dropped its stance against it.

See Cynthia McCormick, Falmouth Backs Death with Dignity, Cape Cod Times, July 10, 2018.


July 12, 2018 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Religion, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Body of Dead Teen, Honored with ‘Extreme Embalming,’ is Posed with Video Games, Sunglasses, and Snacks

MatthewsA funeral home in New Orleans, Louisiana claims that have a history of unique requests and attempt to meet every grieving family's wishes for their deceased loved ones. 18-year-old Renard Matthews was sadly killed while walking his dog, but his family attempted to faithfully respect his laid-back lifestyle. The family had the teenager embalmed and positioned low in a comfy chair wearing dark sunglasses, holding a video game controller, and to the side was a small table with Doritos and soda.

The unique custom has been called “extreme embalming,” reports ABC News, and honors the deceased in personalized ways. It’s particularly popular in Puerto Rico. "In 2015, Green Lantern fan Renato Garcia, 55, died of an asthma attack and was bid goodbye in the costume he often wore around town. “It is what he would have wanted,” said sister Milagros Garcia."

See Elise Sole, Body of Dead Teen, Honored with ‘Extreme Embalming,’ is Posed with Video Games, Sunglasses, and Snacks, Yahoo, July 9, 2018.

July 11, 2018 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

South African Woman Pronounced Dead, Found Alive Inside Morgue Refrigerator

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-07-03/392676b0-e9fe-4245-a0b3-c89ceb072521.pngA South African woman was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene of a car accident on June 24 that left two others dead. Some time later though a mortuary employee went to check on the body and found that she was still breathing. The paramedics claim that at the scene she had shown "no forms of life," and the manager of the ambulance company defended his employees, stating that they were not improperly trained and that there was no negligence.

The family of the unidentified woman wants answers and there is now an investigation into the incident. The woman was transferred to a hospital where she is recovering.

See Benjamin Brown, South African Woman Pronounced Dead, Found Alive Inside Morgue Refrigerator, Fox News, July 2, 2018.

July 3, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Humor, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 2, 2018

How Long Can We Live? The Limit Hasn’t Been Reached, Study Finds

DandelionFor more than a century the life expectancy of humans as doubled due to bettering health care, sanitation, and food supplies. Dr Barbi of the University of the Rome published research in the journal Science claiming that we are not yet to a biological limit, if indeed there is one.

The current record for the longest human life span is a Frenchwoman that passed away at the ripe old age of 122 in 1997. Dr. Barbi and her team used birth certificates to track down elderly Italians who has reached the age of 105 between 2009 and 2015, resulting in a list of over 3,800. Though the "death rate" increases at infancy and at 70, according to Dr. Barbi there appears to be a plateau when people manage to live to be "extremely elderly."

“The plateau is sinking over time,” said Kenneth W. Wachter, a demographer at the University of California, Berkeley, who co-authored the new study. “Improvements in mortality extend even to these extreme ages...We’re not approaching any maximum life span for humans yet."

Brandon Milholland, a co-author of a separate study finding a limit to human life span, questioned the new paper. The research, he noted, was limited to just seven years in one country.

See Carl Zimmer, How Long Can We Live? The Limit Hasn’t Been Reached, Study Finds, New York Times, June 28, 2018.

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

July 2, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 29, 2018

Tattoos can be a Keepsake After Death

TatAfter a discussion of possible keepsakes after a loved one's death, a group of funeral directors came up with the idea to remove and preserve tattoos of the deceased. Their belief was that if the owner of the tattoo had great affection for the ink, then a family member would also like to cherish it as a piece of artwork.

The company Save My Ink provider recommends having them remove the tattoo within 48 hours of the person's death, and then they place the tattoo onto a frame behind a piece of UV protective glass. They have yet to reveal their full process to preserve the tattooed skin.

See https://www.facebook.com/InTheKnowInnovationAOL/videos/1919651414994179/; see also http://www.savemyink.tattoo/

June 29, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Lashes Back at Children Who Say He is not Competent

BuzzBuzz Aldrin, 88, was the second person to step foot on the moon, preceded only by fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong. Aldrin graduated 3rd in his class from West Point before heading off to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to attain his PhD in astronautics. During Gemini 12, the astronaut spent a total of five hours outside of the space craft performing extravehicular activity.

Now, his cognitive ability is being questioned. Aldrin’s children, Andrew and Janice, filed to be named co-guardians of their father because they say "he is being influenced by outsiders and is in cognitive decline and experiencing paranoia and confusion." If successful, they will be in control of his finances as well as his foundation, ShareSpace Foundation.

Aldrin is fighting the allegations, claiming that his business manager, Christina Korp, and his son have been using his money for themselves and this his daughter is an active member of the conspiracy. Andrew and Janice oversee his private company, Buzz Aldrin Enterpirses, and the operations of the Foundation. Korp is a board member of the Foundation. Aldrin will be seen this week by a nurse, social worker, and a doctor to determine his mental and physical condition.

A third child of Aldrin's is not named in either suit.

See Karen Demasters, Astronaut Buzz Aldrin Lashes Back at Children Who Say He is not Competent, Financial Advisor, June 26, 2018.

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

June 26, 2018 in Current Events, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Article on Feeding the Eco-Consumer

EcoAlexia Brunet Marks recently published an Article entitled, Feeding the Eco-Consumer, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal. Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

There is a lot of talk about making our food system more “sustainable,” and eco-consumers — those who consider environmental sustainability as an important purchasing priority — are making themselves heard. This growing consumer segment is rapidly gaining national attention for moving more sustainable products to the market, and for its willingness to pay more for these options. However, while economists normally predict that higher prices lead profit-minded suppliers to enter a market to meet a new and growing demand, this transition is not occurring at the pace one would expect.

This Article argues that land tenure status — whether a farmer rents or owns his/her land — prevents the adoption of sustainable practice. Renters adopt fewer sustainable practices on the land, not because there is anything inherent in farmland rental that results in inferior environmental stewardship, but because legal agreements between the landlord and tenant do not incentivize sustainable practices. In order to feed the eco-consumer and motivate sustainable practice adoption, renters need incentives to adopt sustainable practices. Incentives to produce sustainably are vital given that 10% of farmers are due to retire in the next 20 years, placing more land in tenancy and into the hands of landlords with little farming experience.

Academics have given little attention to asking how sustainable practices will be preserved in the next century with these land-tenure trends in mind. This Article uniquely combines classical economic theory with U.S. Census of Agriculture farming practice data to expose gaps in existing policy and incentivize renters to adopt sustainable practices. In an era of limited federal regulatory power, this Article focuses on private sector solutions found in contracting, conservation initiatives, certification systems, ecosystem markets, and conservation easements.

June 24, 2018 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 7, 2018

13-Year-Old Boy Regains Consciousness After Parents Sign Papers to Donate His Organs

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2018-05-08/488d3b31-34c6-456c-86db-d1a544a5a483.pngTrenton McKinley’s parents faced a difficult decision when the doctors told them their 13-year-old son would never be the same mentally after severe brain damage. The boy had suffered seven skull fractures two months prior in a small trailer accident. His parents did what they thought was best – signed the documents to donate his organs for five children that desperately needed them.

But the day before the doctors were authorized to “pull the plug,” Trenton miraculously showed brain activity. In late March, he regained full consciousness. The boy has a long road to recovery, already having undergone three brain surgeries and still needing a large piece of his skull  reattached.

See Kathrine Lam, 13-Year-Old Boy Regains Consciousness After Parents Sign Papers to Donate His Organs, Fox News, May 7, 2018.

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

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)