Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Friday, February 10, 2017

How the Brits View Posthumous Conception

Posthumous conceptionPosthumous conception—the process of conceiving using a partner’s eggs, sperm, or embryo after they have died—has gained popularity over recent years but still remains a contentious issue. A recent study of more than 2,000 Brits revealed that three quarters of respondents are in favor of a widow using her husband’s sperm to posthumously start a family, while two-thirds of respondents believe that a widower should be able to use his wife’s eggs posthumously. Further, 59% of the women said they would be willing to let their partners use their eggs after death, and 70% of the men are willing to let their partner use their sperm after death. As the concept becomes more widely accepted, posthumous conception is sure to claim legal victories in the upcoming years.  

See Posthumous Conception: Brits Weigh In on Post Mortem Sperm and Egg Retrieval, YouTube, February 7, 2017.

Special thanks to Gabriella Arowshola (Media Liaison Executive, Markettiers) for bringing this article to my attention.


February 10, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Florida's Electronic Wills Act Reported Favorably by the Judiciary Committee

Electronic willsThe potential Florida Electronic Wills Act specifies requirements that must be satisfied in the execution of electronic wills. Additionally, it allows a will that is properly executed in any state to be admitted to probate in Florida. The Florida Judiciary Committee recently reported favorably on the Act and passed the review on to the Banking and Insurance Committee. 

See CS/SB 206: Electronic Wills, Florida Senate, January 31, 2017. 

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.


January 31, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Technology, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

How Technology Will Help the Way We Age in America

Robot retirementRetirement communities are beginning to test new technologies that experts expect to upend some of the constants of retirement. Recently, a retirement home in California has allowed its community members to sign up to test a telepresence robot—its head is a screen and it gets around on wheels, making it easier to keep in touch with family members through video calls. These new technologies seek to provide more freedom, resources, and constant care to retirees. Specifically, virtual reality technology will help to entertain, educate, and engage elders, bringing delight rather than just chasing a problem. Over the next decade, experts see a shift in caregiving where home automation will become more mainstream. Inevitably, technology will help facilitate the way people age in America. 

See Constance Gustke, Seniors Welcome New, Battery-Powered Friends, N.Y. Times, January 20, 2017. 

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


January 24, 2017 in Current Events, Elder Law, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Helping Clients Cement Their Family Legacy

Legacy filmsNot only do we want to preserve our family wealth, but most of us also desire to pass on our family history. Acknowledge Media is helping families do just that. The company assists families in producing legacy films, which cement the lives and thoughts of older generations for younger family members to appreciate. The legacy films are based on interviews with both individual family members and couples and supplemented with family pictures. These films help younger generations understand their family tree and provide a comprehensive plan that expresses various planning assets for the future prosperity and security of the family. The goal of the company is to provide the tools and services that help celebrate the unique aspects of legacy. 

See Karen Demasters, Advisor Collaborates with Firm to Save Clients’ Family History on Film, Financial Advisor, January 17, 2017. 


January 22, 2017 in Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

50 Years Marks Frozen WWI Veteran the Oldest Human Awaiting Reanimation

Frozen alcorJames Bedford, a World War I veteran, since his death in 1966, has been encapsulated in enough liquid nitrogen to keep his body frozen at about -320° F. This week marks the 50th year anniversary of his deep freeze, making him the oldest “deanimated” individual on earth. In 1991, twenty-five years after his death, Alcor Life Extensions Foundation, the company storing Bedford’s body, checked on his condition and found “a well-developed, well-nourished male who appears younger than his 73 years,” deeming his condition good. Bedford’s body along with 146 others in the facility will remain frozen indefinitely with ongoing financial support to sustain their current state. 

See After 50 Years, Frozen WWI Veteran’s Body Awaits Reanimation, Fox News, January 18, 2017. 


January 21, 2017 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Article on Trusts & Estate Law Updates

Trust and estate lawBenjamin Orzeske recently published an Article entitled, Uniform Law Updates, 31 Probate & Property 10 (Jan/Feb 2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Uniform Laws Update provides information on uniform and model state laws in development as they apply to property, trust, and estate matters. The editors of Probate & Property welcome information and suggestions from readers. 

Much of the 2016 legislative activity involved the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA). At press time, 20 states had enacted a version of RUFADAA. This innovative new law ensures that fiduciaries who manage the property of decedents and incapacitated persons will have access to on-line property and accounts as necessary. 


January 18, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Guardianship, Technology, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Princess Leia Will Not Be Digitally Recreated Posthumous

Princess leiaRest assured Star Wars fans, Lucasfilm, the movie’s production company, claims it has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher’s character, Princess Leia, in upcoming films. This announcement comes shortly after several celebrities became worried about their posthumous portrayals. Further, the company insists that it will always strive to honor Fisher’s legacy and in doing so will not use digital effects.   

See Carrie Fisher: Princess Leia Will Not Go Digital . . . Lucasfilm Promises, TMZ, January 13, 2017. 


January 15, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Digital Resurrection Has Stars Trying to Control Their Posthumous Portrayal

Posthumous portrayalAfter Carrie Fisher’s death, much speculation remains over how her character will be portrayed in future, unproduced Star Wars films. Today, filmmakers are using digital technology to resurrect characters after that have passed, but this is leaving actors eager to gain control over how their characters and images are posthumously portrayed. Understanding that their legacy will continue beyond life, stars are making plans to protect their intellectual property rights. Currently, California law gives heirs control over a famous family member’s posthumous profits by requiring their permission for the use of their likeness. As technology improves, however, more actors are concerned with stipulating their legacy. For example, Robin Williams banned the use of his image for commercials until 2039 and prevented anyone from digitally inserting his image into a film or show. Obviously, the use of performers’ likeness has economic value, so it is a matter of how these films and actors can agree on posthumous portrayal.  

See Reuters, Actors Rush to Protect Their Image from ‘Digital Resurrection’ After They Have Died Following Eerie Star Wars: Rogue One Reanimation of Carrie Fisher, Daily Mail, December 31, 2016. 


January 1, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Article on Digital Assets Legislation

PeacMatthew W. Costello recently published an Article entitled, The “PEAC” of Digital Estate Legislation in the United States: Should State “Like” That?, 49 Suffolk U. L. Rev. 429 (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

This Note explores the legal implications of recent digital assets legislation, suggested model legislation, and the future for digital estate planning generally. First, this Note delineates the current state of federal law governing digital assets. Additionally, this Note considers the consequences of Terms of Service (TOS) contracts in relation to the preservation of and access to digital account contents. Next, this Note tracks the history and development of state legislation concerning postmortem digital assets. Further, this Note surveys the development and implementation of suggested model legislation.

This Note argues that federal and state law can coexist in this arena, as recent state law is complementary, not incompatible, with federal laws governing digital communications. Further, this Note emphasizes the unique privacy concerns relevant to digital asset management, arguing sweeping state legislation that categorically divulges private account contents neglects the important privacy interests associated with such digital property. Additionally, this Note highlights the importance of deferring to the decedent account holder's intent when determining whether fiduciary access or control over account content is appropriate after death. This Note discusses areas of strength in current model legislation, namely the Privacy Expectation Afterlife and Choices Act (PEAC), which provides a useful example for states seeking to adopt comprehensive legislation recognizing the intimate and private nature of online property, even after death. This Note concludes suggesting a court ruling is necessary to clarify the law concerning postmortem digital assets.


December 31, 2016 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Robotic Therapy Cats Aid Dementia Patients

Therapy catsThe Memory Care unit at a Bronx medical facility is utilizing robotic therapy pets to soothe those with varying degrees of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Agitation and anxiety often plague these types of patients, so nursing facilities are using furry robotic friends to reduce the stress and isolation that accompanies the disease. Companies, like Joy for All Companion Pets, are making robotic pets that come in various models and cost considerably less than previous years. Ideally, these robotic pets allow patients to exchange companionship and experience serenity. 

See Andy Newman, Therapy Cats for Dementia Patients, Batteries Included, N.Y. Times, December 15, 2016. 

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


December 22, 2016 in Current Events, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)