Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Saturday, May 4, 2024

My father's last lesson: What I learned as my dad grappled with Alzheimer's

Estate planningWith nearly 7 million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, there has been a lot of discussion about the best ways to serve elderly parents suffering from the condition. But the author's family’s experiences have made her think long and hard about what will happen to her when and if she will find myself living as her father did – until recently.

The author felt helpless witnessing her dad’s devolution from happy warrior to hapless prisoner, trapped in a failing body that kept him alive well after his mind could find pleasure in anything. She said Alzheimer’s runs in her father’s family, and the risk of developing it increases with age. She is 67, so his recent past could be her not-that-distant future.

May 4, 2024 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 3, 2024

Living Our Lives – And Planning For The Inevitable

Estate planningAccording to an April 2024 Ameriprise report, over half of those with at least $100,000 in investable assets, who have retired or plan to, haven't yet created an estate plan. It was found there is a lack of preparedness in areas such as advanced medical planning, retirement stability, and estate planning. Half of Americans without a will claim procrastination is the reason for not having their plan secured already.

Concerns about retirement stability persist, with less than a third of respondents in the Ameriprise report feeling confident about their financial longevity. Disagreements on spending for descendants are also common, as about a quarter of respondents aren't on the same page regarding financial support for children and grandchildren. Despite shared goals and trust among couples in financial matters, blended families face unique challenges in navigating the needs of both prior and current family members.

Regardless of income or marital status, everyone should confront the realities of long-term planning. Basic steps involve assessing assets, projecting expenses for retirement, and initiating conversations with family members to ensure wishes for care are known and documented. Seeking professional guidance, such as financial advisors and legal experts, can provide invaluable support in navigating these complex decisions. Educating oneself about the consequences of not planning can be both enlightening and empowering, helping individuals take control of their long-term financial and healthcare futures.

For more information see Naomi Cahn “Living Our Lives – And Planning For The Inevitable”, Forbes, April 28, 2024.

May 3, 2024 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Article: Implications of Voluntary Assisted Dying for Advance Care Planning

Ben White (Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law), Madeleine Archer (Queensland University of Technology - Australian Centre for Health Law Research), Casey Haining (Queensland University of Technology - Australian Centre for Health Law Research), and Lindy Willmott (Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law) recently published, Implications of Voluntary Assisted Dying for Advance Care Planning, 2024. Provided below is an abstract:

Voluntary assisted dying is now lawful in all Australian states, with territories likely to follow. As this new end-of-life choice becomes more widely available and known, we should anticipate it arising during end-of-life care discussions with patients. In Australia, unlike some international models, voluntary assisted dying is not available to people without decision-making capacity. Therefore, patients cannot request voluntary assisted dying through an advance care directive or other advance care planning document. However, some competent adult patients undertaking advance care planning may want to discuss voluntary assisted dying. Reflection is needed to prepare patients, clinicians and health services for discussions about voluntary assisted dying during advance care planning.

April 25, 2024 in Articles, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Article: Tax Sheltering Death Care

Victoria J. Haneman (Creighton Unversity School of Law)  recently published, Tax Sheltering Death Care, 2024. Provided below is an Introduction:

Death is not free. Death care expense is the third largest category of expense with which the average American will contend in a lifetime. Most Americans are unable to shoulder the often-exorbitant cost of death care without being forced to beg, borrow, or simply abandon human remains. In a society with an uneasy relationship with safety-net assistance for the poor and middle class, incentivized savings and precommitment devices arguably become an effective weapon in a limited arsenal to support poverty reduction and economic mobility—and a moral imperative to assist low- and middle-income families with bearing an expense that will be both sizeable and unavoidable, but one that absolutely no one wants to think about. This Article proposes a practical tax-based solution with the goal of catalyzing a radical shift: repurposing existing 529 savings infrastructure to nudge consumer behavior.

April 6, 2024 in Articles, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 18, 2023

The uphill battle for LGBTQ people after death

FuneralThe Louisiana LGBTQ+ End of Life Guide was published in 2022 and is considered the first in the United States. Ezra Salter, a funeral director in suburban New Orleans, felt compelled to compile resources after witnessing horror stories in the industry. Salter worked with the New Orleans non-profit Wake, which provides death-care information and resources to publish the guide. 

Salter describes scenarios in which estranged family members can override prearranged funerals, including excluding what many refer to as “chosen family” from the services. This is because, in Louisiana, all powers of attorney expire at the time of death. However, Salter found that many people were unaware of this. A possible solution is setting up a Funeral and Disposition of Remains Directive, a newly minted form to determine who gets to make decisions after death.

Nicholas Hite of Hite Law Group in New Orleans explains, “For queer folks, your biological family — the people who are legally the next in line to make decisions — are frequently the last people that you want making your decisions… So you need legal paperwork allowing your most closely held individuals — who aren’t necessarily married to you or related by blood — to be in the hospital and at the funeral home with you and on your behalf.”

For more information see Katy Reckdahl and Christiana Botic “The uphill battle for LGBTQ people after death” The Washington Post, April 21, 2023.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (University of Virginia) for bringing this article to my attention.

May 18, 2023 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Khloé Kardashian said that it's in her will to get her nails done 'once a week' if she's in a coma: 'People are gonna visit me'

KhloeK jpgIn the most recent episode of Hulu’s “The Kardashians,”  sisters Kylie Jenner and Khloé Kardashian discuss post-death wishes with their mother, Kris Jenner, as the matriarch prepares for hip-replacement surgery. 

Kardashian later elaborates to the camera, “If I’m in a coma, I’m still getting my nails done once a week, and that’s in my will… Cause people are gonna visit me.” It is important to note that a will would not effectively dictate this until her passing. This information needs to be included in a durable power of attorney.

The family says they frequently discuss their wills and preferences, with Kris saying how she and Kylie have talked about picking out a mausoleum for the family, while Khloé ponders cremation. She speculates as to what would happen if a company like Disney decided to buy and develop land on which her family was buried. “Can you imagine being haunted by the Kardsashians?”

For more information see Palmer Haasch “Khloe Kardashian said that it’s in her will to get her nails done ‘once a week’ if she’s in a coma: ‘People are gonna visit me’," Insider Entertainment, October 20, 2022.

Special thanks to Deedee Nachman (Professor of Law, North Carolina Central University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.  

October 22, 2022 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Foreigners fret over stricter Swiss rules on assisted suicide

DoctorsThe Swiss Medical Association has released new guidelines for assisted suicide, requiring those seeking physician assisted suicide to have two meetings with their doctor, at least two weeks apart, before making the final decision. Many fear that it will hamper access to the practice and upset foreigners who seek out the legal end of life care in Switzerland.

Under previous rules, individuals were only required to stay in Switzerland for a few days before completing their treatment. While a primary concern is that the “two-week-rule” creates a cost-prohibitive barrier for the treatment, critics are also saying that it will require those in pain to suffer. The new rule does allow for exceptions, but only for those who are unable to stay in Switzerland for two weeks, or if their suffering is so unbearable that a long wait would be intolerable.

The Swiss Medical Association says they chose to refine the guideline, not simply tighten it. 

For more information:

See Kaoru Uda “Foreigners fret over stricter Swiss rules on assisted Suicide” Swiss Info, July 26, 2022.

August 14, 2022 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 6, 2022

National Make-A-Will Month

WillsAugust is National Make-A-Will Month, which is a great reminder to start thinking about your estate plan to ensure your final wishes are executed as you intended. 

According to a survey published by Caring.com, more than 50% of Americans think having a will is important, but many Americans have not gotten around to it. Some have reported they do not like the idea of planning for their death, and 1 out of 3 survey takers stated that they don’t believe they have enough assets to leave behind. Estate Planning goes beyond just wealth, it is important to have a plan in place to make your passing less complicated for your loved ones.

The COVID-19 pandemic increased interest in estate planning, and the number of 18-34 year olds with estate planning documents in place has increased by nearly 50%. However, 2 out of 3 American adults still do not have a will.

For more information:

See National Make a Will Month” NFCR Blog, August 18, 2020.

August 6, 2022 in Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 15, 2022

Mark Fleischman, Studio 54 owner, dies by assisted suicide at 82

FleischmanMark Fleischman, owner of the notorious Studio 54 nightclub, died on July 13 in Zurich. Fleischman had previously announced his plans to die by assisted suicide in an interview published in the New York Post in June. 

Fleishman had a degenerative condition that left him unable to perform daily tasks. In the interview, he spoke about a previous attempt to end his life where he was revived at a hospital. Due to limitations of assisted suicide in the United States, Fleischman sought the help of a Swiss organization, Dignitas.

Dignitas conducts careful screenings to determine whether terminally ill people qualify for end-of-life treatment. This includes reviewing applications, extensive interviews, psychiatric evaluations, and having the applicant provide a notarized affidavit stating that they want to end their life.

Fleischman said in the interview that he was looking forward to his death as he wants to know what happens when he dies. His wife, Mimi, was by his side at the time of his passing.

For more information:

See Matt Schudel “Mark Fleischman, Studio 54 owner, dies by assisted suicide at 82,” The Washington Post, July 13, 2022.

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Florida Probate Attorney) for bringing this topic to my attention.

July 15, 2022 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 16, 2022

COVID-19 Is Motivating Americans to Get a Will – Especially After Contracting COVID-19 

COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic served as a wake-up call for many Americans, especially regarding end-of-life planning. 

According to the survey question “Did your loved one have a will before dying of COVID-19?” only 22.6% responded with Yes, 17.6% responded that their loved one had a living trust, and 15.8% had a different estate planning document in place.

Now, nearly half of those who had a serious case of COVID-19 are much more likely to have a will than those who have not experienced the virus. This includes an increase with 18-34 year-olds, who have been motivated by the pandemic to take further steps to obtain estate planning documents.

For more Information:

See Daniel Cobb, “1 in 5 People Who Died of COVID-19 Did Not Have an Estate Plan,” Caring.com, June 2022.

June 16, 2022 in Current Events, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)