Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Swiss Clinic Presents Assisted Suicide Simulation Video

Virtual assisted suicideA Swiss clinic, Dignitas, has created a virtual reality assisted suicide film, “The Last Moments,” that represents a person’s experience who wishes to accept the clinic’s services. Over the last two decades, hundreds of people have gone to the clinic to end life on their own terms. The film not only immerses the viewer in the assisted suicide setting, but it also allows the person to make a choice of whether to end their virtual life right then or carry on living. The film depicts two characters: a crying loved one and the woman who presents the viewer their final choice.

See Cheyenne MacDonald, What It’s Really Like to Die: Swiss Assisted Suicide Clinic Dignitas Reveals Harrowing VR Death Stimulator, Daily Mail, March 24, 2017.

March 26, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Self-Driving Cars Could Help Transportation Efforts for Aging Americans

Autonomous vehiclesSelf-driving cars might be a viable means of getting from place to place for older adults in the near future. Currently, approximately 16 million Americans sixty-five and older live in communities where the public transportation is poor or nonexistent. That number is expected to grow rapidly as the baby boomer generation continues to remain outside the major cities. Autonomous vehicles could be the key for closing this concerning mobility gap for an aging society, while automakers are vying in the race to reduce or eliminate the amount of time a person actually spends driving in a vehicle. However, there are several impediments that would need to be worked out, as the elderly understandably have a harder time adjusting to such technology. Accordingly, automakers should be aware of older drivers because if they do not trust the technology, the business will potentially slow.

See Mary M. Chapman, Self-Driving Cars Could Be Boon for Aged, After Initial Hurdles, N.Y. Times, March 23, 2017.

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

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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

New Tools for Elder Financial Abuse Are on the Rise

Elder financial abuse2Artificial intelligence, data, and virtual reality may become future tools for elder financial abuse. In the age of technology, elders rely on direct mail and telephone solicitation to become familiar with non-profits and give to charity, which means charity scammers can still easily defraud them. Further, with these new options, fraudsters will have intimate knowledge on how to appeal to the emotional triggers of elders. The potential for manipulation is huge.

See Ted Knutson, Al, Big Data May Become Tools for Elder Financial Abuse, Financial Advisor, March 22, 2017.

March 22, 2017 in Current Events, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 20, 2017

In a World Where Your Boss Is Half Your Age

Young bossToday, companies are looking to fill their management roles with people who are “digital natives,” normally millennials and Gen X-ers. All the while, baby boomers are staying on the job longer, and retirees are looking for a second act and rejoining the ranks. Consequently, these older generations will be answering to managers much younger than them. In fact, a recent study found that 38% of American workers had a younger boss. Further, research shows that older workers are less responsive to their younger bosses because it is difficult to adjust to such power rankings. Rightfully so, our technology-oriented society has made it more difficult for older workers to adapt to the ever-changing workplace flow. We just have to figure out how to make it work.

See Joanne Kaufman, When the Boss Is Half Your Age, N.Y. Times, March 17, 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.

March 20, 2017 in Current Events, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

How Our Cells Can Teach Us About a "Natural" Death

Cells natural deahtWhat is a good death? Because our society has evolved into one with an abundant amount of life-sustaining technologies, most believe the answer is a “natural” death. When we consider a natural death, the vision represents one before the development of modern resuscitative technologies—so, perhaps a revolt again technology altogether. However, this definition of death by how medically involved it is may be shortsighted. One must imagine something even more elemental to truly understand what death is like stripped of its social context. There are three main mechanisms in which cells die—necrosis, autophagy, or apoptosis. In the cellular version, necrosis is considered a “bad” death, whereas apoptosis is considered a natural one. These three mechanisms represent life and death at a cellular level, creating a phenomena that is much more socially conscious than it is at a human level. Essentially, an appropriate death is central to the survival of an organism. Death, therefore, is not the enemy—it is the fear that death arouses. This fear forces us to make choices that defy the biological constraints of our existence, often resembling a fate like that of necrosis. So in order to have a natural death, or that of apoptosis, for the organism to survive, the cells must die and they must do it well because our cells understand that “life without death is the most unnatural fate of all.” 

See Haider Javed Warraich, What Our Cells Teach Us About a ‘Natural’ Death, N.Y. Times, March 13, 2017. 


March 15, 2017 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Article on Marketing the Modern Estate-Planning Practice

Marketing estate planCraig R. Hersch recently published an Article entitled, Marketing the Modern Estate-Planning Practice: Beyond Networking in an Age of Commoditization and Fragmented Media, Tr. & Est. 74 (Feb. 2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

In 1989, I graduated from law school and soon after landed at my present firm. Founded in 1924, it’s a stalwart in Fort Meyers, Fla. and the surrounding area. At the time, Southwest Florida had a small but fast growing population; the local bar was collegial, and the clients were abundant. 

To get my name around town and build my professional reputation, I published an article or two in journal like Trusts & Estates magazine, among others, using them as a springboard to conduct workshops for local attorneys, CPAs, trust officers and financial advisors. Back then, that’s about all it took to establish and maintain a thriving practice. 

Those days are gone.

Traditional marketing methods alone don’t work anymore. Today’s experience economy, which shapes the delivery of our services, reveals how to identify your target clients and employ specific strategies to attract them. 


March 15, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 3, 2017

Article on Estate Planning for the Online Gamer

Virtual estate planMichael Austin recently published an Article entitled, Virtual World, Real Money: Estate Planning Considerations for the Online Gamer, 9 Est. Plan. & Community Prop. L.J. 85 (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

This comment aims to address potential issues inherent in estate planning for digital assets, and it poses a series of questions that estate planners may use to gain a better understanding of their client’s virtual assets. But, before this comment can explore the intricacies of virtual economies in today’s games, a brief history of online gaming is necessary. 

To begin, this comment will present a history of online gaming to lay a foundation for understanding online gaming’s evolution to its current state. The comment will then turn to briefly discussing recently reported, notable transactions in online economies to give examples of situations in which estate planning may benefit the purchasing gamer. Next, this comment will outline the approach that current state laws take to handle digital assets from an estate planning prospective. This comment will then argue that, in lieu of these laws, estate planners must pay special attention to the emergence of online gaming economies, which can yield considerable wealth for their clients. With these state statutes in mind, this comment will propose legislation that any state could adopt to account for the influx of virtual wealth throughout the video gaming community. Finally, this comment will propose a series of questions that can help an estate planner prepare to handle the various digital assets that a client may possess. 


March 3, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Games, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

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)