Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Saturday, May 14, 2005

High Tech Tombstones

Technology continues to influence all aspects of a person's life and even thereafter as new types of technology-enhanced grave markers are gaining in popularity.

Accordingly, it is becoming more important for a person to specify their desires ahead of time.  In some states, this process is relatively easy because of statutory provisions which provide a method for a person to mandate body desposition desires.

Even without such a statute, a conditional gift to the person who would otherwise make arrangements (e.g., a spouse or child) might be effective -- the beneficiary would be required to comply with the decedent's instructions or else risk losing a significant testamentary gift.

In Jeff Zaslow, Having a Say in Your Epitaph: The Challenge of High-Tech Tombstones, W.S.J., April 7, 2005, at D1, the following types of grave markers are discussed:

  • Tombstone including audio-taped message from the deceased.
  • Grave maker with laser-etched pictures (e.g., the decedent, his/her car, pet animal, etc.).
  • Flat screen monitor installed in the tombstone with computer chip memory to play video/audio messages.
  • Engraved messages which may not have been to the decedent's liking.

Special thanks to Jeffery Walsh for bringing this article to my attention.

May 14, 2005 in Death Event Planning | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 13, 2005

HIPAA and Computer Magazine

I just found an article about HIPAA in a relatively unlikely place -- a computer magazine.  I conclude that because so much medical information is kept on computers, HIPAA compliance is a significant concern for IT departments.

See Curtis Franklin, Jr., HIPAA's Little Instruction Book, Network Computing, April 28, 2005, at 25.

May 13, 2005 in Articles, Disability Planning - Health Care | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

"Inheritor's Trusts"

The presumptuousness of children is being taken to a new level by the increasing popularity of inheritor's trusts.

This estate planning technique works as follows.  A person who hopes to be the beneficiary of a will, typically a child who anticipates being named in his or her parent's will, establishes a trust containing the dispositive and administrative provisions the child determines are in that child's best interest.  Often, these provisions help protect trust property from the person's creditors, potential ex-spouses, and wealth transfer taxes.

The person then goes to his parents, grandparents, other relatives, and friends and importunes them to "leave your property to this trust that I have established for my benefit."

In this manner, the windfall upon the testator/rix's death is governed by the terms of a trust the beneficiary wants, not the restrictions and limitations which the decedent may have preferred.

Definitely a "me generation" estate planning technique, eh??

See Rachel Emma Silverman, How to Ask (Nicely) For Your Inheritance, W.S.J., May 11, 2005, at D1.

Special thanks to Jeffrey Walsh for bringing this article to my attention.

May 13, 2005 in Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Uniform Trust Code Conference

The following information is adapted from an e-mail message I received from Prof. David English:

The first Uniform Trust Code National Conference will be held on Sunday, June 26 immediately following the ACTEC Summer meeting in Chicago.

The program, which is funded by a grant from the ACTEC Foundation, will begin with a brunch at 11 am at the new Millennium Park in Chicago, followed by a meeting at the nearby Union League Club at 1 pm.  The program will conclude by 3 pm.  We are hoping to achieve a good mix of states so that we can do some state reporting and regional breakouts.

Almost all of the presenters will be ACTEC Fellows who have been involved with the UTC, either as members of the drafting committee or on state bar legislative committees.  As you are probably aware, the UTC is now enacted in 12 jurisdictions and will likely to be enacted in at least four more states this year.

May 12, 2005 in Conferences & CLE, Trusts | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Client Base Expands for Pet Estate Planning

I often discuss the importance of planning for the care of a client's pet animals upon the client's disability or death.  Recently released statistics demonstrate the number of individuals who need such planning is rapidly increasing.  For example, in 1988, only 51 million households owned pets.  The number increased to 64 million households by 2002 and has now reached 69 million households.  Now that is a huge number of potential clients!!

As many as 43.5 million households in the United States own dogs and 37.7 million own cats.  In addition to these traditional pets, Americans also own a wide variety of other animals. For example, there are 14.7 million households with fish, 6.4 million with birds, over five million with small animals such as hamsters and rabbits, and 4.4 million with reptiles.

See Melissa A. Monroe, Creature Comforts, San Antonio Express-News, May 4, 2005, at E1 (reporting statistics gathered from the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association's 2005/2006 National Pet Owners Survey) (partially posted on web).

May 12, 2005 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Family Limited Partnerships

A relatively simple, client-friendly (also student-friendly) discussion of family limited partnerships is found on the website of Ambrecht & Associates, a California law firm.  Although a bit dated and centered on California law, Family Limited Partnerships: A Client Primer  provides an understandable introduction to FLPs.

May 11, 2005 in Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Inheritance Rights Article

The most recent issue of the Georgia Law Review includes an interesting note by R. Brent Drake entitled Status or Contract?  A Comparative Analysis of Inheritance Rights Under Equitable Adoption and Domestic Partnership Doctrines. 39 Ga. L. Rev. 675-731 (2005).

May 11, 2005 in Articles, Intestate Succession | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Diminished Capacity Client

Here are two articles by Charles P. Sabatino which discuss the difficult situation of an estate planner who encounters a client who may have less than sufficient capacity:

16 J. Academy of Matrimonial Law. 481 (2000).Representing a Client with Diminished Capacity: How Do You Know It, and What Do You Do About It,

Assessing Clients with Diminished Capacity, Bifocal, Summer 2001, at 1.

May 10, 2005 in Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Estate Planning for Pets Continues to Receive Media Attention

The public's interest in estate planning for their non-human family members continues to receive media attention.

For example, a story entitled Making room in the will for Fido and Fluffy -- Money bequeathed for pet care after the owners die was posted yesterday (May 9, 2005) on the MSNBC website.

Special thanks to Ashley Ressmann for bringing this article to my attention.

May 10, 2005 in Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, May 9, 2005

Top Ten Strangest Will Bequests

Kit Carson provides an entertaining discussion of unusual will provisions in his article The Top Ten Strangest Will Bequests.

May 9, 2005 in Humor, Wills | Permalink | TrackBack (0)