Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Article: Who Owns Our Dead Bodies: A Critical Socio-Legal Study

Arseny Shevelev (Independent) and Georgy Shevelev (Sole practitioner) published an Article in the Texas International Law Journal, Who Owns Our Dead Bodies: A Critical Socio-Legal Study, 2023. Provided below is an abstract to the Article:

We are living in a challenging era, when people are being deprived of the rights to their bodies that they have won through centuries of vehement struggle for liberty. This unfortunate truth is valid not only with regard to rights to the body while alive, but also with regard to the right to dispose of one's body in the event of death, and the root of this is the failure of the legal system to reflect prevailing social values. This Article will analyze the various options of selecting persons authorized to dispose of a corpse through the prism of the social sciences. It will scrutinize the basics underlying the state's choice in favor of either the deceased's relatives or non-blood loved ones and demonstrate the depth of the disregard for the deceased's will in determining the posthumous destiny of their own body. Ultimately, this Article will propose a model for a radical revision of a person's right to dispose of their own dead body, the heart of which will be the concept of the abstract subject of ownership. This new concept will, for the first time, justify a logically consistent mechanism explaining how a person's right to their body is capable of surviving the death of its owner and continuing to operate despite the absence of a concrete owner.


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