Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

New Startup Partnering With Fertility Clinic To Screen Egg And Sperm Donors For Genetic Diseases

Designer babyA new startup company called GenePeeks is partnering with the Pacific Northwest Fertility clinic in Seattle to screen donated sperm and eggs for potential genetic diseases.  Some critics have argued that this could potentially lead to people seeking to have “designer babies,” while defenders argue that this technology is simply intended to help potential parents produce a healthy child.  GenePeeks is not the first company to conduct genetic testing, but they will test for more genetic variants than any other company. 

See Azeen Ghorayshi, This Company Is Trying To Make More Perfect Babies, BuzzFeed News, July 12, 2015.

Special thanks to Professor Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Chair GWU Law School) for bringing this article to my attention.  

July 14, 2015 in Current Affairs, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Clyde Tombaugh’s Ashes Will Fly By Pluto Today

ClydeIn 1930, a young American astronomer named Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto, today his ashes will fly by the dwarf planet.  Tombaugh’s wish before passing away in 1997 was for his ashes to be sent into space.  An ounce of the astronomer’s ashes are Contained in an aluminum capsule on NASA’s New Horizon which was launched into space on 2006 and now in 2015 it is set to leave our solar system.  A live broadcast of the flyby will be broadcast on NASA TV.  This will represent a major event in the history of space exploration.

See Arden Dier, One man’s ashes will fly by Pluto on Tuesday, July 13, 2015. 

July 14, 2015 in Current Affairs, Science, Technology, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 13, 2015

California Court Will Hear Case Involving Frozen Embryos

Embryo caseA hearing has been set in a San Francisco Superior Court to decide on a precedent setting case involving the fate of frozen embryos created by a couple who are now divorced.  Mimi Lee would like to use the embryos because this is her last chance to have biological children of her own.  Her former husband Stephen Findley is seeking to have the embryos destroyed.  There is currently not much case law on these types of disputes.  This article mentions a few past cases that are similar to this one.  As more people continue to use advanced reproductive technologies like in-vitro fertilization these types of disputes will likely become more common.

See Victoria Colliver, Battle over S.F. Couple’s frozen embryos heads to court, San Francisco Chronicle, July 11, 2015.

Special thanks to Joel Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 13, 2015 in Current Affairs, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Five Great Free Retirement Calculators For Everyone

CalculatorAnyone who plans for retirement needs some basic information calculated such as earnings projections on investments and expense calculators to determine how long savings will last. This day and age the choices are many as the internet proliferates with free tools that will calculate any number of things. However, finding a respectable site that has accurate tools might be a problem but thankfully the article below offers a great run down on the free calculator websites available and the particular features of each. These websites are tremendously helpful for the novice estate planner and veteran alike and should be checked out by anyone that is seeking tools to help plan for the future.

See Rob Berger, 5 Excellent Retirement Calculators (And All Are Free), Forbes, July 12, 2015.

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

July 13, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

When People Post About Funerals On Social Media

Funeral-trust25-crop-600x338It is very common for people to post just about every detail of their life on social media services like Facebook or Twitter.  This column discusses some of the controversy surrounding the increasing number of people who post pictures and comments about funerals on their social media accounts and the mixed feelings that society has about this new trend.  Some people believe that funerals should be private affairs and would not like it if somebody took a picture of the casket and posted it on Facebook or Twitter.  There are other individuals who have no issue with sharing pictures and information about funerals with their social media networks.  As social media technology continues to develop these concerns about privacy will continue to become more prevalent. 

See Leanne Italie, For social media fans, funerals are now fair game: Share, comment, or take a selfie?, Arkansas Online, July 1, 2015.

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

July 1, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Long-Term Care In The Digital Age

Old WomenSenior citizens are the fastest growing age group in the United States and will place a tremendous burden on the long-term care sector as the Baby Boomers reach retirement age. The problems that will be encountered cannot fully be appreciated yet, but digital technology will be of great help as it offers the chance to keep the elderly in touch with the rest of society, even if bedridden. Digital visits with distant family members will allow the elderly to have a presence in the life of the younger generation and greatly help with the loneliness epidemic found in many senior living centers. In addition, digital communication will allow seniors to visit with medical professionals for consultations without having to wait for local physicians to visit. All and all, the future appears bright for the beneficial integration of electronics into senior care.

See Marc Agronin, How Technology Will Revolutionize Long-Term Care, Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2015.

July 1, 2015 in Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Article On Ownership Of Digital Property

Article PictureCraig Dickson (Auckland University of Technology), recently published an article entitled, The Digital Legacy Conundrum: Who Really Owns What?, June 4, 2015. Provided below is an abstract of the article:

Previously the distribution of assets following the death of loved one was straightforward. These days however, a lot of the “property” of a deceased and many relevant documents might be only contained on a hard drive, in an e-mail account or in some form of cloud storage. A number of problems can arise when executors attempt to source, access and/or retrieve these “digital assets” left behind by the deceased and many, if not most people do not have a clear or accurate understanding of the extent of their digital estate. Moreover, the many sites where digital assets are located have differing protocols regarding the access that will be granted to executors and Unauthorised access and privacy laws may put executors and trusts and estates lawyers at risk of violating one set of laws (often those of the United States, where many of the social networking and online storage accounts are based), merely for attempting to carry out the duties required of them under another set of laws.


June 25, 2015 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

New Digital Tools Make Retirement Planning Easier

Retirement planningPeople who are planning for retirement often face difficulties when deciding how much money they will need.  With life expectancies increasing there is often a risk of outliving retirement savings.  A new retirement planning tool that is offered by Personal Capital, a financial technology company, is making it easier for people to plan ahead.  There has been a recent growth in financial technology companies offering people "robo-advisors," who use algorithms based on the clients data to offer more accurate retirement projections.  These new technologies will make it easier for clients to get the information needed to make fast decisions.

See Laura Shin, Test An Endless Number Of Retirement Projections With This New Tool, Forbes, June 22, 2015.

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

June 23, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

What Happens To Social Media Accounts After Death?

FacebookThe State of Wyoming is looking at creating legislation that will provide a process for dealing with a person’s social media accounts after they die.  Not a lot of jurisdictions have legislation in place for dealing with a decedent’s social media services like their Facebook, Twitter, and email accounts.  Lawmakers in Wyoming would like to model the legislation after the Privacy Expectation Afterlife and Choices Act, which is a piece of legislation that technology firms are lobbying for across the United States.  The bill will create a process that will make it easier for decedents to give family members access to their accounts after they pass away.

See Trevor Brown, What happens to social media after you die?, The Wyoming Tribune Eagle, June 20, 2015.

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

June 21, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Web/Tech, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

California Legislature Considers Digital Asset Reform Bill

FacebookThe California legislature is thinking about passing a bill that would allow deceased individuals to ‘opt-in’ to giving executors and trustees access to digital assets.  The bill would let individuals opt-in by expressly stating it in a will or through an internet service provider.  The bill is part of a larger nationwide effort to give decedents more control over their digital assets.  The text of this proposed piece of legislation can be read here

See Kathryn Sylvia, California introduces ‘opt-in’ digital assets bill, Robinson + Cole, June 11, 2015.

June 17, 2015 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology, Trusts, Web/Tech, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)