Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Judge THROWS OUT Lawsuit Filed by Sofia Vergara's Own Embryos As Part of Her Ex-Fiancée’s Legal Battle over Frozen Eggs That He Named Emma and Isabella

VergaraA Louisiana judge dismissed a case filed against Sofia Vergara by her ex-fiancée, Nick Loeb. Loeb and Vergara had two viable embryos frozen while they were dating. Loeb wants to find a surrogate for the embryos, which he has already named. Vergara wants them to remain frozen. Vergara is pointing to the original agreement the couple signed dictating both she and Loeb would need to provide consent for the embryos to be implanted. Whoever wins this legal battle, victory will not be found in the Bayou State. The judge held that the Louisiana court did not have jurisdiction over the embryos as they were conceived in California.

See Kaileen Gaul, Judge THROWS OUT Lawsuit Filed by Sofia Vergara's Own Embryos As Part of Her Ex-Fiancée’s Legal Battle over Frozen Eggs That He Named Emma and Isabella, Daily Mail.com, August 25, 2017.

August 29, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 28, 2017

Article on The New Uniform Digital Assets Law: Estate Planning and Administration in the Information Age

CloudMichael D. Walker recently published an Article entitled, The New Uniform Digital Assets Law: Estate Planning and Administration in the Information Age, 52 Real Prop. Trust & Est. L.J. 51 (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

The “Information Age” has significantly changed the estate planning process by adding digital assets to decedents’ estates. This Article examines the definition of digital assets, as well as the state and federal laws affecting digital assets. It also provides estate planning attorneys with advice on how to deal with digital assets in estate planning and administration.

August 28, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act -- Explanation and Forms

DigitalGerry W. Beyer and Kerri Nipp have just posted on SSRN their article entitled Cyber Estate Planning and Administration.

This article aims to educate estate planning professionals on the importance of planning for the disposition and administration of digital assets so that fiduciaries can locate, access, protect, and properly dispose of them. The operation of the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act now enacted in at least thirty-six states is explained in detail. Several planning techniques that may be employed are discussed and the appendices include sample forms clients may use to organize their digital assets and sample language that can be used in estate planning documents, court orders, and in request letters to digital asset custodians.

August 21, 2017 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Technology, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Article on The Online Assets: The Post-Mortem Disposal. The Short Overview of Current Problems (For Russian Readers)

Russia-kremlin-gettyПавел Дробышев recently published an Article entitled, The On-Line Assets: The Post-Mortem Disposal. The Short Overview of Current Problems (For Russian Readers), Wills, Trusts, & Estate Law eJournal (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Russian Abstract: Статья содержит краткий обзор правовых проблем посмертного распоряжения электронными активами граждан.

English Abstract: The paper presents a short overview of current legal problems in post-mortem disposal of on-line assets.

Special thanks to Robert H. Sitkoff (John L. Gray Professor of Law, Harvard Law School) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 19, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

You and the Law: Planning for the Expected Unexpected

AdobeStock_70242561-1024x808Considering one’s mortality can be an unsettling prospect. This natural aversion to discussing what will happen upon death leads many to avoid conversations about wills, trusts, assets, and final expenses. While such conversations may be uncomfortable, dying without an estate plan creates additional headaches for spouses and children that can add frustration and guilt onto their already-present sense of bereavement and loss.

In a modern arena, dying without a will offers problems unique to our technological age. Not disclosing or sharing online financial information may leave some assets overlooked. When passwords and usernames are not accessible, social media pages remain in stasis as heirs look for a means to close accounts.  

See H. Dennis Beaver, You and the Law: Planning for the Expected Unexpected, Times Standard, July 31, 2017.

August 13, 2017 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 4, 2017

Article on Terminal Patients and the Right to Refuse Medical Treatment in Argentina

Tumblr_ly3y9gf9cC1qza49co1_500Martin Hevia & Daniela Schnidrig recently published an Article entitled, Terminal Patients and the Right to Refuse Medical
Treatment in Argentina, Wills, Trusts, & Estate Law eJournal (2017). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

The right to health has many dimensions. On the one hand, it entails positive duties for states to protect the health of individuals. On the other, it encompasses patient decision making regarding personal health, an idea which is closely linked to the right to autonomy and the right to free development of the individual—that is, to dignity. This is why the informed consent of the patient and her right to make a choice according to her own values should be honored, even when her decision may seem irrational or imprudent. When patients are incapable of providing informed consent—for example, if the patient is unconscious—the law can authorize certain persons to act as a proxy on their behalf. In Argentina, the Patients’ Rights Act (2009) as amended by the Death with Dignity Act (2012) states that if a patient is unable to provide informed consent, consent may be provided on her behalf by her close relatives, affinal kin, or legal guardian, in this order of preference. The Patients’ Rights Act also permits patients to set up advance directives regarding health decisions to be made if they become terminally ill. In 2015, the Argentine Supreme Court of Justice discussed the scope of patient autonomy in the case D., M.A. s/declaración de incapacidad. This case presented a question that had yet to be explored by the court: how can we determine an unconscious patient’s will if she does not have written advance directives concerning whether a life-sustaining medical treatment should be continued? This article examines the grounds of the Argentine Supreme Court’s decision in D., M.A. First, we describe the case law that existed prior to D., M.A. Then, after explaining the facts of the case, we discuss the ruling and raise doubts about its scope.

Special thanks to Robert H. Sitkoff (John L. Gray Professor of Law, Harvard Law School) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 4, 2017 in Articles, Death Event Planning, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Scientists Reawaken Memory in Mice That Had a Condition Resembling Alzheimer’s

MaxresdefaultExperiments by Christine Denny at Columbia University have resulted in researchers reawakening forgotten memories in mice. Scientists have long thought that individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease were losing memories; that individual neurons storing memories were actually being erased. Through the aid of genetically engineered mice, researchers have found this is not actually the case.

Denny's research team conducted an experiment in which mice were introduced to a lemon scent and then shocked. Genetically engineered mice with brain dysfunction similar to Alzheimer’s did not react the next time the smelled the lemon scent. The lack of reaction was an indication they were not recalling the correct memory. Through the use of lasers, researchers stimulated neurons associated with the lemon scent. The next time these mice were exposed to the smell, they reacted in anticipation to the electric shock. The study is ground-breaking and brings with it hope that memories in Alzheimer’s patients might be reactivated.

See Alice Klein, Scientists Reawaken Memory in Mice That Had a Condition Resembling Alzheimer’s, The Washington Post, July 29, 2017.

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

August 4, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Want to Live FOREVER? Major Breakthrough in Cryogenic Freezing

The-time-machineThe chance to see what the world will be like in 200 or 300 hundred years, once a fancy belonging to the realm of science-fiction, has just become a more realistic possibility. Scientists in the US were able to freeze zebra embryos to sub-zero temperatures and then successfully revive them. Although only 10% of the embryos were viable after being brought back from their frozen state, this marks a huge milestone for the cryogenics industry.

Prior tests had been routinely unsuccessful as the gradual warming of the frozen embryos caused a lethal formation of ice crystals. With the addition of gold nano-rods heated by laser, the warming process became much faster. This allowed for some of the embryos to survive defrosting and continue to grow as normal. If perfected, this process has far-reaching implications, one of which is prolonged space travel. Currently, there are concerns that isolation in space over long distances might lead to mental instability. If astronauts could be cryogenically frozen and then awakened at journey’s end, the possibility of a mental breakdown, in addition to lower food, water, and oxygen consumption, would be significantly reduced.

See Sean Martin Want to Live FOREVER? Major Breakthrough in Cryogenic Freezing, Express, August 3, 2017.

August 3, 2017 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Article on Note: Stop Frustrating the Testator's Intent

TSBB_Frustration-440x293Jeffrey A. Dorman recently published an Article entitled, Note: Stop Frustrating the Testator's Intent: Why the Connecticut Legislature Should Adopt the Harmless Error Rule, 30 Quinn. Prob. Law Jour. 36 (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

In Connecticut, for over two hundred years, wills, their formation, and their execution have been governed by the formalities of the Wills Act. These formalities, codified in Conn. Gen. Stat. section 45a-251 (2016), outline the strict guidelines that a will must comply with in order to be considered valid. The statute requires that the document be in writing, signed by the testator, and attested by two witnesses.  Connecticut courts have strictly followed this bright-line rule in the past; more recently, however, these same courts have utilized the curative doctrine of substantial compliance and have considered applying the harmless error rule to determine whether a will is valid. With the growth of services, such as LegalZoom, and the establishment of highly accessible legal kiosks, more and more testators are drafting wills without an attorney. 6 Given this increasing trend, mistakes are bound to happen, especially with will drafting and execution, and it is highly unlikely that each drafted document will follow the strict statutory formalities that the Wills Act proscribes. As more testators draft their own wills utilizing the easy and efficient do-it-yourself legal services, Connecticut courts (as well as other jurisdictions) should be wary of putting form over substance by strictly adhering to the aforementioned statutory formalities. Instead, reviewing courts should focus their concerns on whether the testator intended the document to act as his or her will.

July 20, 2017 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dead Could Be Brought 'Back To Life' in Groundbreaking Project

Universal-Frankenstein-07-11-16Health watchdogs approved a groundbreaking trial aimed at regenerating brain tissue in individuals who have been declared clinically dead. Scientists plan to inject comatose patients with stem cells and a combination of peptides, along with implementing some nerve stimulation techniques, in order to repair brain damage. These techniques have had some past success in reviving patients from comas.

The trial participants have been certified as being brain-dead and are kept alive through life-support. The team undertaking the experiment has officially received approval for their first twenty subjects. They are currently working with the hospital to identify any potential conflicts with patients' families who may oppose the endeavor due to religious or other medical concerns. Dr. Sergei Paylian sees the possible benefits of the study: “Through our study, we will gain unique insights into the state of human brain death, which will have important connections to future therapeutic development for other severe disorders of consciousness, such as coma, and the vegetative and minimally conscious states, as well as a range of degenerative CNS conditions, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.”

See Sarah Knapton, Dead Could Be Brought 'Back To Life' in Groundbreaking Project, The Telegraph, May 3, 2016.

Special thanks to Molly Neace for bringing this article to my attention.

July 19, 2017 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)