Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, February 5, 2016

Mice Are Living Much Longer Lives, And Humans Could Be Next

Research mouseScientists have been able to increase the lifespan of mice by as much as 35 percent, and many researchers believe that this type of advanced medical technology could potentially help humans live much longer and healthier lives. “They discovered that senescent cells – cells that no longer replicate as organisms get older – build up with age, and contribute to age-related illnesses including cancer.” When these cells were removed from the mice they lived much longer lives. This column describes some of the scientific principles behind what the researchers are studying. Longer lifespans that will be made possible because of continued advances in medical research and technology will have a major impact on estate and retirement planning in the future. If the average human is living a much longer lifespan society may need to rethink its whole attitude about aging.

See Matt Atherton, Mice have been made to live 35% longer – and it could be humans next, say researchers, International Business Times, February 4, 2016.

February 5, 2016 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 22, 2016

Florida Senate Committee Sends Digital Assets Bill To Whole Chamber

FloridaThe management of digital assets after the death of the owner has been well covered on this blog and the need for action to be taken to allow access for executors and heirs. It seems the Florida Senate is thinking along the same lines after a bill that will grant access to online accounts passed through the hurdles of the committee that was assigned to review the proposed legislation. The bill would allow an individual to designate another that will be able to control the assets after death including social media, financial accounts, and email services. Another bill is being considered in the Florida House which is similar to the Senate version but has yet to move out of committee. No word on when final passage of the legislation can be expected.

See Jim Rosica, “DIGITAL ASSETS” BILL HEADING TO SENATE FLOOR, Florida Politics, January 20, 2016.

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

January 22, 2016 in New Legislation, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Apple Not Rotten, Cuts Red Tape For Widow To Access Account

KeyboardSome resolution has come to a case I covered recently as Apple has allowed a widow in Canada access to an account she shared with her husband. The widow has gone to Apple with a copy of the will, death certificate, and other documentation but the electronics giant refused her access until she obtained a court order. This request rightfully caused much controversy with the widow and the media when it went public and Apple responding by granting her access with the ample proof that she already provided. However, not every denial of access can be resolved in the same way so it is imperative that measures are taken to allow family and executors access to digital accounts. Some sites allow the preferences to be changed that allow access to certain parties upon death or incapacitation but that is not a universal courtesy that is offered by all companies. Ultimately, the best method is to record the usernames, passwords, security questions, and any other relevant information and storing it in a secure location that can also be accessed by an executor, spouse, or other necessary individuals when the time comes.

See James Rogers, Widow wins battle with Apple over deceased husband's password, Fox News, January 20, 2016.

January 21, 2016 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Estate Planning For Copyrights, Patents, And Trademarks

Patent officeOne very important aspect of estate planning is deciding how property will be distributed after a person dies. Property can include more than just tangible assets, money, and real estate. If a person possesses valuable intellectual property, they will need to plan for that as well. Copyrights, patents, and trademarks are the three broad categories of intellectual property that is protected under federal law. A person’s rights “in original works of authorship” are known as a copyright, and these rights automatically exist once a person produces a work in fixed form. A patent, which gives a limited property right to the inventor of an invention, is not automatic and a request for patent must be submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). “A trademark is the right to use a particular word or mark in association with a commercial product or service.”

See Scott C. Soady, How Should I Deal with Copyrights, Patents, and Trademarks in My Estate Plan?, The Law Office of Scott C. Soady, January 14, 2016.

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

January 20, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Medicare Imposing Stricter Requirements For Many Home Medical Devices

New medicare policyCiting a growing concern about questionable medical claims Medicare is imposing stricter rules requiring pre-approval for many medical devices that patients use at home. Critics are concerned that the new requirements will bog down the process of getting important life-saving medical supplies. “Starting Feb. 28, Medicare will require pre-authorization for some of the most commonly used home medical supplies, including oxygen, sleep apnea and related equipment in a strategy that commercial insurers have used for years to curb overuse of medical testing.” Medicare is hoping that these new measures will save $10 million in 2016 and up to $100 million by 2025. Medicare patients will need to be aware of these new policies and be proactive in their requests for home medical devices.

See Kris B. Mamula, Medicare to tighten requirements for many home medical devices, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, January 18, 2016.

January 18, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 15, 2016

Growing Use Of Rechargeable Batteries Boosting Demand For Lithium

LithiumThe renewable energy revolution has caused an ever growing demand for rechargeable batteries which is causing lithium to become a more important resource. Lithium is a vital component of batteries that are used to power many important things like our phones, laptops, and electric vehicles. Goldman Sachs has called lithium “the new gasoline” because of its importance in a more battery oriented clean energy future. Governments and businesses all over the globe are scrambling to secure lithium resources. Lithium has become one of the world’s hottest commodities and the price of lithium carbonate has more than doubled in the two months leading up to the end of December. Countries that have an abundance of lithium resources are going to benefit in this surge in demand for a resource that is crucial for the green energy revolution.

See San Pedro Atacama, An increasingly precious metal, The Economist, January 16, 2016.

January 15, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

How Technology Can Reduce The Costs Of Long-Term Care

ABLEMore people are living longer lives, and as a result many people are going to need long-term care. This type of care is very expensive, but technology can go a long way in helping to defray some of the costs. Technology is helping to reduce the costs of long-term care in many ways from remote monitoring to telemedicine. Remote monitoring can be a way for friends or family members to keep tabs on a loved one even if they are across the country. This type of technology can be as simple as using skype or video monitoring and can eliminate the cost of hiring an aid to monitor the patient. This article also discusses devices that can take a patient’s vitals and alerts them if they need to take their medicine.

See Donna Fuscaldo, Long-Term Care: How Technology Can Defray the Cost, Investopedia, December 31, 2015.

January 2, 2016 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Rising Obesity Rates Putting Pressure On Nursing Homes

ObesityNursing homes in the United States have been put under an increasing amount of strain because of the rising number of obese patients. “The percentage of those entering American nursing homes who are moderate and severely obese — with a body mass index of 35 or greater — has risen sharply, to nearly 25 percent in 2010 from 14.7 percent in 2000, according to a recent study, and many signs suggest the upward trend is continuing.” Nursing homes are struggling to care for these patients because Medicaid does not reimburse them for the type of specialized equipment needed to care for heavier patients. There are many nursing homes across the country that routinely decline referrals for obese patients. Whether denying a patient admission into a nursing home because of obesity violates the Americans With Disabilities Act is an unsettled legal question. This issue is going to remain prevalent in the future as the number of obese senior citizens continues to rise.

See Sarah Varney, Rising Obesity Rates Put Strain on Nursing Homes, The New York Times, December 14, 2015.

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

December 29, 2015 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 25, 2015

Very Old Viking Settlement Found Under Norwegian Airport

VikingAn ancient Viking settlement that is more than 1,500 years old has recently been discovered buried underneath a Norwegian airport. Archaeologists found the site during an airport expansion. Many valuable artifacts have been discovered in this site which is believed to have once been inhabited by a fishing community. The historical remains have been kept in good condition thanks to the low-acidity in the soil. This part of Norway is believed to be rich in historical treasures but government restrictions have made archaeological digs difficult. These new important discoveries will allow historians and archaeologists to gain more knowledge and insight about ancient Viking civilization.

See 1,500-year-old Viking settlement discovered underneath Norway airport, Independent, December 25, 2015.

December 25, 2015 in Current Affairs, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Developing A Strong Marketing Plan For 2016

Good planThis column provides an agenda that firms should follow to develop a strong marketing plan for 2016. It is important to be brutally honest when evaluating the good and bad aspects of this years marketing plan when developing a plan for next year. Think big when setting up a strong client acquisition goal, but make sure the goal is realistic. Carefully plan out what actions will need to be taken and what tactics the firm will need to adopt. Creating a fixed routine and then committing to it is an important thing for a firm to do if it wants to accomplish its goals. Finally, it is important to cut down the marketing plan and adopt simple and action friendly language.

See Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols, Create a Rockin' Marketing Plan in Less Than 45 Minutes, Wealth Management, December 10, 2015.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

December 10, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)