Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, October 29, 2018

This AI Startup Generates Legal Papers Without Lawyers, and Suggests a Ruling

AiAn artificial intelligence application (app) developed by Ignacio Raffa, a startup founder from Buenos Aires, can now draft a ruling on a non-complex case in seconds, going so far as recommending a ruling to the judge. The app was developed in collaboration with the local district attorney's office.

The app, Prometea, is being used for stuff like taxi license disputes, not murder trials, but it’s a significant automation that is beneficial to the city's overworked justice system. The Buenos Aires office says its 15 lawyers can now clear what used to be six months’ worth of cases in just six weeks. It is not meant to be used for intricate cases. “It can help legal systems around the world,” says Asha Aravindakshan, a Sloan Fellow at MIT who saw a demo of the app this summer. “Everyone has a backlog.”

Raffa trained the app using the DA office’s digital library of some 300,000 scanned court documents from 2016 and 2017 that included 2,000 rulings. So far, judges have approved 33 of its 33 suggested rulings, and it’s being used in at least 84 other pending cases. “It’s not replacing humans,” says Ezequiel González, a professor at the University of Oxford who hosted a demonstration of the app in May. “It simply comes to the rescue of judges that are buried in massive dockets.”

See Patrick Gillespie, This AI Startup Generates Legal Papers Without Lawyers, and Suggests a Ruling, Bloomberg, October 26, 2018.

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

October 29, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 26, 2018

CLE on Cybersecurity Issues for Planners and Their Clients

CLEThe American Bar Association is holding a web seminar entitled, Cybersecurity Issues for Planners and Their Clients, on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. Central. Provided below is a description of the event.

Cybersecurity issues for business owners (e.g., identifying exposure points and how to address them), as well as for lawyers themselves, in how they transmit, store and dispose of client information.

October 26, 2018 in Conferences & CLE, Current Affairs, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

New California Law Puts San Francisco on the Path to Taxing Autonomous Vehicles

AutoThe proposed “robot tax” has taken one step closer to reality with California Governor Jerry Brown’s recent signing of Assembly Bill 1184. The bill authorizes the City and County of San Francisco to impose a tax on each ride originating in San Francisco provided by an automated vehicle, whether facilitated by a rides haring app or another person.

The automated vehicle tax would be capped at 1.5% of net rider fares when a passenger shares a ride with other passengers, and 3.25% of net rider fees when the passenger does not share the ride. The revenues from this tax would be required to be used to fund “transportation operations and infrastructure” within the city.

Though autonomous vehicles are currently in development and the technology is still out of the consumer's grasp, California and San Francisco wanted to be ahead of the economic rush and possible turmoil of switching to such a drastically different system. Drivers would no longer need to pay vehicle license and registration taxes, so the local governments would need to find an equivalent.

See Fisher Phillips, Rise of the Robot Tax? New California Law Puts San Francisco on the Path to Taxing Autonomous Vehicles, Lexology, October 18, 2018.

October 23, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Article on Digitalisation and the Future of National Tax Systems: Taxing Robots?

RoboJoachim Englisch recently published an Article entitled, Digitalisation and the Future of National Tax Systems: Taxing Robots?, Tax Law: Tax Law & Policy eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

It is generally assumed that already in the next decade, the use of labour-saving robots with implemented artificial intelligence will lead to a dramatic transition of the workforce in almost all sectors of production and services. The ensuing loss of jobs that have traditionally been performed by a human employees is likely to result at least temporarily in reduced wage tax and payroll tax revenues, increasing income inequality and a disruption of the labour market. Against this backdrop, the idea of taxing the use of robots that replace human workforce, or even taxing the robots themselves, has emerged in politics and scholarly writings. Several justifications have been brought forward by its proponents: the robot tax has been regarded, respectively, as a corollary to a soon-to-be-expected concession of civil law personhood to robots, as a tax on imputed income earned by means of the robot, as an equalisation levy to restore the level playing field regarding the taxation of robots and of human workers, as an instrument for economically efficient wage compression between winners and losers of automation among the human workforce, or as a corrective tax to slow down the disruption of the labour market.

This paper argues that upon a closer look, the case for taxing robots or their use is relatively weak, though, except when specific conditions are met. There is currently no compelling argument to make robots themselves taxable persons, neither for the purposes of income taxation nor for the purposes of indirect taxes on consumption expenditure. Moreover, significant objections can also be raised regarding suggestions to tax the use of robots. Some of the concepts advanced in literature rely on presumptions that are either conceptually flawed or lack credible empirical support. Other proposals have their merits, but when weighing in on their potential benefits, policymakers will also have to take into account that any tax on robots is liable to result in distortions, complexities, and reduced growth. Besides, proponents of a robot tax tend to underestimate how capital mobility and international tax competition could easily undermine the respective objective of such a tax. As a Pigouvian tax, a robot tax will therefore likely have a very limited field of reasonable application. Regarding income redistribution and revenue raising objectives, the taxation of robots should only be considered as a measure of last resort, and in any event a provisional one. Where politically feasible, priority should instead be given to intensified efforts to tax the return on capital investments and on profits in general, including an adequate taxation of ultimate shareholders. In any event, increasing automation should have implications for the international allocation of taxing rights.

October 17, 2018 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Article on The Latest 'Federal Movement' in the Food and Drug Law Arena: The Federal Right-to-Try or Rather Right-to-Know and Thus Request Investigational Therapies for Individuals with a Life-Threatening Disease or Condition

PillsRoseann B. Termini recently published an Article entitled, The Latest 'Federal Movement' in the Food and Drug Law Arena: The Federal Right-to-Try or Rather Right-to-Know and Thus Request Investigational Therapies for Individuals with a Life-Threatening Disease or Condition, Elder Law eJournal (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article:

Does the recently enacted Federal Right-to-Try Act provide improved access for the desperately ill? Will insurance companies provide reimbursement for a patient to undergo such investigational therapies? Is the manufacturer protected in terms of lawsuits? That is, does the patient relinquish the right to bring a legal action? Will physicians comprehend the pathway and advocate for their patients? Does this new law guarantee “any novel federal right”? The national state movement regarding Right-to-Try state legislation spurred the enactment of the Federal Right-to-Try (Federal Right-to-Try Act) legislation passed in 2018. Yet, even prior to the enactment of the Federal Right-to-Try law, the United States Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has had mechanisms in place for those terminally ill who do not qualify for a clinical trial.

This article provides a Federal Primer on the Investigational Drug, Biologic and Device Process, details a similar national right-to-know movement in the food and drug law arena that led to federal legislation perhaps comparable to how the Federal Right-to-Try Act was enacted and includes a discussion about the state right to try movement which conceivably led to the enactment of the Federal Right-to-Try Act. There are more queries than unambiguous answers regarding the recently enacted Federal Right-to-Try Act. The federal law in essence could prove troublesome and confusing with both the state Right-to-Try measures due to, for instance, issues of national uniformity and preemption. Further, could the recently enacted Federal Right-to-Try Act ultimately be detrimental to the patient in terms of lack of adequate safeguards and perhaps a false unrealistic sense of hope?

September 6, 2018 in Articles, Death Event Planning, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, New Legislation, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 24, 2018

Tranquil Strategies for Fighting Dementia in the Netherlands

DementiaThe Netherlanders have an alternative and peaceful strategy to treat dementia patients. The unorthodox treatment includes harnessing the power of relaxation, childhood memories, sensory aids, soothing music, family structure and other tools to heal, calm and nurture them instead of relying on medication, bed rests, and possible restraints. Dementia, a group of related syndromes, can be a steep decline in brain function that steals memories and personalities of the inflicted.

“The more stress is reduced, the better,” said Dr. Erik Scherder, a neuropsychologist at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and one of the country’s best-known dementia care specialists. In the 1990s, the Dutch started thinking differently about how to treat the disease, moving away from a medicalized approach that simply treated clients as hospital patients.

Katja Ebben, who is the intensive care manager at Vitalis Peppelrode, a home in Eindhoven, said she had noticed that with the newer techniques, patients need less medication and fewer physical restraints. Willy Briggen, 89, lives at the Eindhoven home and is subject to outbursts due to her advanced dementia. A decade ago the staff may have medicated her to calm her, but now they roll a squat projector into her room, where it beams out calming images and plays soothing sounds.

See Christopher F. Schuetze, Look at These Unusual Strategies for Fighting Dementia, New York Times, August 22, 2018.

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

August 24, 2018 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 9, 2018

You May Have Signed a Living Will, but Scary Mistakes can Happen at the ER

DNRMisunderstandings involving documents meant to guide end-of-life decision-making are “surprisingly common,” said Williams-Murphy, medical director of advance-care planning and end-of-life education for Huntsville Hospital Health System in Alabama. A new report out of Pennsylvania, treats mix-ups involving end-of-life documents as medical errors — a novel approach. Pennsylvania health-care facilities reported nearly 100 events relating to patients’ “code status” — their wish to be resuscitated or not, should their hearts stop beating and they stop breathing. In 29 cases, patients were resuscitated against their wishes. In two cases, patients weren’t resuscitated despite making it clear they wanted this to happen.

The problem, Regina Hoffman, executive director of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and co-author of the report, explained that doctors and nurses receive little if any training in understanding and interpreting living wills, DNR orders and Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) forms.

Make sure you have ongoing discussions about your end-of-life preferences with your physician, your surrogate decision-maker, if you have one, and your family, especially when your health status changes. Without these conversations, documents can be difficult to interpret.

See Judith Graham, You May Have Signed a Living Will, but Scary Mistakes can Happen at the ER, Washington Post, August 5, 2018.

Special thanks to Naomi Cahn (Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, George Washington University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

 

August 9, 2018 in Current Affairs, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Drinking Too Much—or Not at All—May be Linked to Dementia

  BeerA long term study published August 1 in the British Medical Journal followed the drinking habits of more than 9,000 civil servants between the age of 35 and 55 years old starting in 1983 and found a link between drinking excessively or not at all may both be linked to developing dementia.

The study determined that moderate drinking was comparable to 8 standard American drinks, and those drinking more than that "the risk of dementia increases as the number of alcohol units consumed increases," according to lead author Séverine Sabia, a researcher at Inserm, the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. If a person drank themselves into hospitalization, the likelihood increased to 400%. On a surprising note, those that completely abstained from any alcohol consumption were nearly 50% more likely than moderate drinkers to develop dementia.

The study does have one noticeable drawback - it relied on self-reported alcohol consumption, and "people have a tendency to under report."

See Devon Frye, Drinking Too Much—or Not at All—May be Linked to Dementia, Psychology Today, August 7, 2018.

 

August 7, 2018 in Current Affairs, Estate Planning - Generally, Science | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 4, 2018

How do You Want to Die?

HeartNo one want to die too soon, but when asked, a person would want to die quickly and painlessly. Though an implantable defibrillator may extend the life of a patient with an increased risk of arrhythmia, it alleviates the "chance" of dying quickly. Instead, the patient lives longer but may end up passing away from congestive heart failure with the lungs slowly filling with fluids and can be physically agonizing.

Defibrillators offer many amazing benefits and they are highly effective. Studies have shown that they prolong life in a significant number of cardiac patients and the implantation procedure is safe. And defibrillators can, in theory, be compatible with a quick death: When a patient’s condition spirals downward, the patient can choose to deactivate the device, though rarely does a patient choose this option.

See Sandeep Jauhar, How do You Want to Die?, New York Times, July 28, 2018.

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

August 4, 2018 in Current Affairs, Death Event Planning, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 30, 2018

New Alzheimer’s Drug Slows Memory Loss in Early Trial Results

TreeFor the first time in a large clinical trial, a drug was able to both reduce the plaques in the brains of patients and slow the progression of dementia. The trial involved 856 patients from the United States, Europe and Japan with early symptoms of cognitive decline. They were diagnosed with either mild cognitive impairment or mild Alzheimer’s dementia, and all had significant accumulations of the amyloid protein that clumps into plaques in people with the disease, said Dr. Lynn Kramer, chief medical officer of Eisai, a Japan-based company that developed the drug.

Many other drugs have managed to reduce amyloid levels but they did not ease memory decline or other cognitive difficulties. In the data presented Wednesday, the highest of the five doses of the new drug — an injection every two weeks of 10 milligrams per kilogram of a patient’s weight — both reduced amyloid levels and slowed cognitive decline when compared to patients who received placebo.

See Pam Belluck, New Alzheimer’s Drug Slows Memory Loss in Early Trial Results, New York Times, July 25, 2018.

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

July 30, 2018 in Current Affairs, Disability Planning - Health Care, Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)