Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Estate Planning for Crypto and Other Digital Assets: What You Need to Know

BitcoinEstate planning has evolved past simply writing a will and placing other documents in a safe deposit box. With the rise of the internet, cloud storage, and crypto currency comes a new style of planning for one's death.

Your executor still needs to know what assets you have and how to access them, and tt is the access that is the trickiest part in planning for handing off your digital assets to your heirs. “It’s most important to explain (to them) the kinds of assets, key locations, and access controls you’re using for security. Access controls are things like PINs, passphrases, multisignature or timelock requirements,” explains Pam Morgan, a probate attorney who has written a book on cryptoasset inheritance planning.

The vast majority of states with laws on digital assets have adopted a model law that was written broadly enough to include things that haven’t been invented yet, says Ben Orzeske, chief counsel for the Uniform Law Commission. So far, 42 states have enacted laws allowing executors to manage digital assets in much the same way they do traditional holdings of estates.

See Ted Knutson, Estate Planning for Crypto and Other Digital Assets: What You Need to Know, Forbes, August 14, 2018.

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

August 15, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Technology, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 9, 2018

You May Have Signed a Living Will, but Scary Mistakes can Happen at the ER

DNRMisunderstandings involving documents meant to guide end-of-life decision-making are “surprisingly common,” said Williams-Murphy, medical director of advance-care planning and end-of-life education for Huntsville Hospital Health System in Alabama. A new report out of Pennsylvania, treats mix-ups involving end-of-life documents as medical errors — a novel approach. Pennsylvania health-care facilities reported nearly 100 events relating to patients’ “code status” — their wish to be resuscitated or not, should their hearts stop beating and they stop breathing. In 29 cases, patients were resuscitated against their wishes. In two cases, patients weren’t resuscitated despite making it clear they wanted this to happen.

The problem, Regina Hoffman, executive director of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and co-author of the report, explained that doctors and nurses receive little if any training in understanding and interpreting living wills, DNR orders and Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) forms.

Make sure you have ongoing discussions about your end-of-life preferences with your physician, your surrogate decision-maker, if you have one, and your family, especially when your health status changes. Without these conversations, documents can be difficult to interpret.

See Judith Graham, You May Have Signed a Living Will, but Scary Mistakes can Happen at the ER, Washington Post, August 5, 2018.

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

 

August 9, 2018 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 4, 2018

How do You Want to Die?

HeartNo one want to die too soon, but when asked, a person would want to die quickly and painlessly. Though an implantable defibrillator may extend the life of a patient with an increased risk of arrhythmia, it alleviates the "chance" of dying quickly. Instead, the patient lives longer but may end up passing away from congestive heart failure with the lungs slowly filling with fluids and can be physically agonizing.

Defibrillators offer many amazing benefits and they are highly effective. Studies have shown that they prolong life in a significant number of cardiac patients and the implantation procedure is safe. And defibrillators can, in theory, be compatible with a quick death: When a patient’s condition spirals downward, the patient can choose to deactivate the device, though rarely does a patient choose this option.

See Sandeep Jauhar, How do You Want to Die?, New York Times, July 28, 2018.

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

August 4, 2018 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 3, 2018

Prince's Estate Files Lawsuit Over Cybersquatting of Prince.com

PrinceThe recording artist and actor Prince died at 57 of a fentanyl overdose in 2016 at his Paisley Park recording studio in suburban Minneapolis. His estate also owns three trademarks under the Prince name, which the estate claims is being trampled on by Domain Capital, a domain broker out of Englewood, New Jersey, who owns the rights to the domain name Prince.com.

The suit is being brought under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. Passed in 1999, the law created a federal cause of action if a domain name was registered, trafficked or used in a way that infringed upon a trademark or personal name. Plaintiffs requested immediate and permanent injunctive relief, transfer of the domain, damages and attorneys’ fees.

According to the complaint, the company “has been ordered to transfer domain names under the Uniform Domain Dispute Resolution Policy for the registration and use of the domain names in bad faith.” Domain Capital provides a lease-back program where an owner of a domain sells the digital property to the company and the company then leases it back to the original owner for continued use, keeping the identity of the leasee private.

See Jason Tashea, Prince's Estate Files Lawsuit Over Cybersquatting of Prince.com, ABA Journal, July 30, 2018.

 

August 3, 2018 in Current Events, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Technology, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 30, 2018

New Alzheimer’s Drug Slows Memory Loss in Early Trial Results

TreeFor the first time in a large clinical trial, a drug was able to both reduce the plaques in the brains of patients and slow the progression of dementia. The trial involved 856 patients from the United States, Europe and Japan with early symptoms of cognitive decline. They were diagnosed with either mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer’s dementia, and all had significant accumulations of the amyloid protein that clumps into plaques in people with the disease, said Dr. Lynn Kramer, chief medical officer of Eisai, a Japan-based company that developed the drug.

Many other drugs have managed to reduce amyloid levels but they did not ease memory decline or other cognitive difficulties. In the data presented Wednesday, the highest of the five doses of the new drug — an injection every two weeks of 10 milligrams per kilogram of a patient’s weight — both reduced amyloid levels and slowed cognitive decline when compared to patients who received placebo.

See Pam Belluck, New Alzheimer’s Drug Slows Memory Loss in Early Trial Results, New York Times, July 25, 2018.

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

July 30, 2018 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Podcast: The Digital Will Revolution

ACTEC_FoundationEver heard of an electronic will?  Listen to the latest ACTEC podcast on the topic of the Digital Will Revolution. 

Millennials are known as the disruption generation. Now they are bringing that disruption to an estate planner’s law practice with the electronic will. Listen to ACTEC Fellows Robert Fleming of Tucson, Arizona and Suzanne Brown Walsh of Hartford, Connecticut, and learn all about it.

July 30, 2018 in Technology, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Augmented Reality Assists With "Freezing" Symptom

ParkinsonBioengineering students at Rice have designed an augmented reality app to help patients with Parkinson’s overcome a symptom known as “freezing”, in which the legs temporarily refuse to follow the brain’s command to lift and move forward.

https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6425337705885954048

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

July 25, 2018 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Article on Minors and Digital Assets Succession

MatrixNatalie Banta recently published an Article entitled, Minors and Digital Assets Succession, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal. Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Minors who die in the United States hold a property interest in an asset that did not exist when the law established eighteen as the age of legal capacity to devise. These assets are digital assets: email, social networking, documents, photos, text messages, and other forms of digital media. Minors use these assets with a fluidity and ease unrivaled by older generations. Under the current law, minors have no right to decide what happens to their digital property at death. Despite the fact that minors have the capacity to contract with online businesses, make health care decisions, marry, have sex, and seek employment, minors are denied one of the most basic rights of property ownership — the right to devise. This Article is the first to explore how minor capacity law should change to accommodate the changing nature of property and grant minors the right to devise their digital assets. It explores historical capacity standards imposed upon minors in order to own and use property and argues that these standards are no longer adequate to regulate digital assets. It demonstrates how applying succession law instead of an arbitrary age requirement safeguards minors interests, protects property and privacy rights, and promotes the freedom of succession. This Article argues that granting minors the ability to devise digital assets is a logical evolution of minor capacity standards seen in other areas of the law. It has been forty years since we have considered the age of legal capacity to devise property and with the proliferation of digital assets, the time is ripe for a reassessment of minors’ capacity to devise digital property.

July 24, 2018 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Intestate Succession, Technology, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 23, 2018

Article on Inheritance Rights for Posthumously Procreated Children: A Growing Challenge for the Law

FrozeneggsJustin d'Almaine recently published an Article entitled, Inheritance Rights for Posthumously Procreated Children: A Growing Challenge for the Law, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal. Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Significant advances in cryogenic technology render it possible to freeze and store human gametes. Under appropriate laboratory conditions frozen gametes can remain viable for long periods of time. In consequence, it is possible for a child to be conceived and procreated after the death of one or both parents. This raises some challenging juristic problems. Amongst these are implications for the law of inheritance. Where a valid will expressly refers to a child who will be procreated after the testator's death, the child's right to inherit will be secured. However, where a will merely refers to children as a class, or with intestate succession, it becomes uncertain whether a posthumously procreated child has a right to inherit. South African legislation governing succession, the common law and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 all fail to provide definitive answers. Because of this and as the numbers of posthumously procreated children are likely to increase as artificial reproduction services become more widely available, there is a need for South African legislation to clarify their inheritance rights.

July 23, 2018 in Articles, Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 16, 2018

Highest Court of Germany Rules Parents Allowed Access to Deceased Daughter's Account

German flagThe parents of a 15-year-old girl that was killed by an underground train in 2012 have earned a landmark victory in Germany's highest court, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH). The parents asked social media giant Facebook for access to their daughter's account and messages to determine if her death was an accident or a suicide, but was denied citing that the German constitution, or Basic Law, entitles a person to data privacy even after their death.

The court agreed with the lower-level court ruling that that Facebook data is legally equivalent to private correspondence covered by Germany's inheritance law and that it was part of the parents' inheritance.

Facebook only allows relatives of a deceased user to either convert their page into a "memorial" site or entirely delete the page.

The legal questions surrounding a person's "digital legacy" have previously arisen in the United States, where Apple refused a law enforcement request to unlock an iPhone of a mass shooter in San Bernardino, California.

See Facebook: Court Rules Parents Have Rights to Dead Daughter's Account, DW.com, July 12, 2018.

Special thanks to Victor Salas (Evening Reference Librarian, Louis L. Biro Law Library, John Marshall Law School) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 16, 2018 in Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)