Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Cryptocurrency: rise of decentralised finance sparks ‘dirty money’ fears

CryptoJust a few days before the July 4 holiday, Denver entrepreneur Erik Voorhees declared that "the company he had founded seven years earlier to help people exchange cryptocurrencies without making their names available to the government or anyone else would disappear from the face of the Earth — even as its services remained available to those who wanted them." 

Voorhees's enterprise, known as ShapeShift, would become a "decentralized autonomous organization," or DAO overtime. Voorhees wrote on twitter: "ShapeShift's vision is the establishment of an immutable, borderless financial system. . .Let's be direct: money and finance shall not be operated by coercive government among free people. They shall — like language, mathematics, and love — emerge voluntarily and without central rule." 

US regulatory circles have honed in on Vorhees's declaration who long worried that the secrecy of the crypto trade "create opportunities to disguise the origin and ownership of funds." In crypto trade, the coins are controlled by the holder of a "private key" which allows for anonymity. 

This anonymity is a major focus of concern for US regulatory circles, and those anxieties have grown stronger with the growth of decentralized finance or DeFi. DeFi platforms "seek to replace financial intermediaries such as banks or brokers with software known as smart contracts. . . .that would automate market activity." 

Although US regulatory circles are concerned with the hazy legal status and lack of customer knowledge that comes along with DeFi platforms, Vorhees and his "crypto allies" never intended to know their customers and feel that DeFi innovations will "enable them to break free of such obligations." 

See Gary Silverman, Cryptocurrency: rise of decentralised finance sparks ‘dirty money’ fears, Financial Times, September 14, 2021. 

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

September 28, 2021 in Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Podcast on Non-Fungible Tokens released by ACTEC

NftProf. Gerry W. Beyer’s podcast entitled Non-Fungible Tokens: What Every Estate Planner Needs to Know was released on August 24, 2021 by the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

This podcast is available at https://actecfoundation.org/podcasts/non-fungible-tokens-estate-nft.

August 24, 2021 in Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 26, 2021

'Donation of the century': South Korea unveils late Samsung boss' 23,000-strong art collection

Http---cdn.cnn.com-cnnnext-dam-assets-210721143522-06-lee-collection-samsungLee Kun-hee, Samsung's late chairman, had a collection of some 23,000 artworks. Those artworks were recently donated to South Korea and appeared in two exhibitions of the items in Seoul on Wednesday. 

Just months before the exhibits were opened, Lee's family announced the donation "as it seeks to settle an inheritance tax bill of over 12 trillion won ($10.4 billion)."

The art works are being shown at the National Museum of Korea and National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA). Items on display include "centuries-old antiques and contemporary Korean works, while paintings by Western names like Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet are set to be unveiled next year." 

Lee's father founded technology conglomerate Samsung in the 1930's. Lee died in October and was 78-years-old. 

In April, his family stated that it was expecting to pay more than half the value of his estate in inheritance tax over a period of five years. "That same day, South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism revealed that the Lee family was donating approximately 23,000 antiques and artworks to public collections." 

See Oscar Holland, 'Donation of the century': South Korea unveils late Samsung boss' 23,000-strong art collection, CNN, July 21, 2021. 

July 26, 2021 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Electronic-Will Legislation -- Good, Bad, or Ugly?

Prof. Adam J. Hirsch (University of San Diego) has recently posted on SSRN an undated version of his extensive article about e-will legislation entitled Models of Electronic-Will Legislation. Here is the abstract of the article:

This Article examines alternative ways lawmakers could structure legislation validating electronic wills. The Article identifies four essential models, each of which is currently reflected in acts or drafts of acts found either in the United States or abroad. These are: (1) acts validating electronic wills that meet formal requirements, (2) acts giving effect only to specialized variants of electronic wills (or none at all), (3) acts allowing electronic wills only when made under emergency conditions, and (4) acts allowing electronic records intended as wills on a case-by-case basis, without establishing formalities for their validation. In the course of the analysis, the Article performs the first-ever empirical survey of popular assumptions concerning the revocation of electronic wills. The Article ultimately concludes that, given the novelty of electronic wills, we are best off if states experiment with alternative legislative models until lawmakers have enough evidence to assess their relative merits. For this reason, the Uniform Electronic Wills Act of 2019 is premature.

July 13, 2021 in Articles, New Legislation, Technology, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Apple sued for terminating account with $25,000 worth of apps and videos

AppleAccording to a new suit filed against Apple, the meaning of the words "rent" and "buy" are not what we, as consumers, think they are. 

In one of two class-action suits against Apple, the lead plaintiff David Andino argues that Apple's definition of the words "rent" and "buy" are deceptive "since the company can terminate people's Apple IDs and, along with them, access to content they purchased using the 'buy' button." 

Andino is arguing that consumers aren't allowed to buy content at all, but are only allowed to rent content, meaning consumers never own any content outright. Andino further claims that, had he known that his access could be cut off at any time, he would not have spent as much money on iTunes content. 

The suit further states, “[j]ust like Best Buy cannot come into a person’s home to repossess the movie DVD that such person purchased from it, [Apple] should not be able to remove digital content from its customers’ Purchased folders." 

In response to the allegations, Apple argued that "no reasonable consumer would believe that content purchased through iTunes would be available on the platform indefinitely." 

Fortunately for Andino, US District Court Judge John Mendez did not buy Apple's argument and rejected Apple's motion to dismiss the suit. 

The other class-action suit is brought by Matthew Price who claims he lost $24,590.05 in iTunes, the App Store, and in-app purchases, which "became inaccessible when Apple terminated his account." 

See Tim De Chant, Apple sued for terminating account with $25,000 worth of apps and videos, Ars Technica, April 23, 2021. 

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

April 28, 2021 in Estate Planning - Generally, New Cases, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

New article on electronic wills

Adam J. Hirsch (University of San Diego) recently posted his article entitled Models of Electronic-Will Legislation on SSRN which is forthcoming in the Summer 2021 issue of the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal. Here is the abstract of his article:

This Article examines alternative ways lawmakers could structure legislation validating electronic wills. The Article identifies four essential models, each of which is currently reflected in acts or drafts of acts found either in the United States or abroad. These are: (1) acts validating electronic wills that meet formal requirements, (2) acts giving effect only to specialized variants of electronic wills (or none at all), (3) acts allowing electronic wills only when made under emergency conditions, and (4) acts allowing electronic records intended as wills on a case-by-case basis, without establishing formalities for their validation. In the course of the analysis, the Article performs the first-ever empirical survey of popular assumptions concerning the revocation of electronic wills. The Article ultimately concludes that, given the novelty of electronic wills, we are best off if states experiment with alternative legislative models until lawmakers have enough evidence to assess their relative merits. For this reason, the Uniform Electronic Wills Act of 2019 is premature.

April 21, 2021 in Articles, Technology, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 29, 2021

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's first tweet sold for $2.9 million on Sunday. The buyer said it's the Mona Lisa of tweets.

DorseyAn NFT version of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's first tweet sold at auction for $2.9 million. The buyer said he's valuing it like "fine art."

Hakan Estavi, chief executive at Bridge Oracle, claimed "[t]his is not just a tweet. . .I think years later people will realize the true value of this tweet, like the Mona Lisa painting." 

Dorsey's tweet—"just setting up my twttr"—was just 24 characters, which means Estavi paid more than $100,000 per character. 

This is a stark price, even in the form of an NFT. According to Tom C.W. Lin, a professor at Temple University's Beasley School of Law, "[a]n NFTs value is largely derived as a function of scarcity and speculation."

Basically, the price comes from "the combination of high demand and rarity. . ." 

The demand for Dorsey's tweet has had a slow and gradual incline. The first offer was for one dollar on December 15. After a few weeks, the offer rose to $3500, but was eventually cancelled by the bidder. 

 Dorsey plans to convert the proceeds to bitcoin and then donate it to charity. 

See Kevin Shalvey, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey's first tweet sold for $2.9 million on Sunday. The buyer said it's the Mona Lisa of tweets., Business Insider, March 24, 2021. 

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

March 29, 2021 in Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 25, 2021

This UT Student Startup Is Bringing Estate Planning Into the Digital Age

ApoorvaThe Launch Pad at the University of Texas at Austin helps students "in the various stages of entrepreneurship navigate innovation across the Forty Acres." Apoorva Chintala has been particularly successful in the LaunchPad program. Chintala is a junior at UT and is pursuing degrees in management information systems, economics, and Plan II. 

Chintala is the CEO and co-founder of Clock Inc., "an online platform for effortless and legal digital estate planning." This month, Chintala was selected as a finalist for the Spring 2021 LaunchPad Fellowship. 

Chintala has taken notice of the current gaps in estate planning, especially the gaps caused by the trouble to keep up with the ever-evolving digital world. Chintala began catching on to these issues when her grandfather died her sophomore year of high school. 

"Since then, Clocr has been growing and recently pivoted to become the only solution for digital estate planning in the world that is compliant with the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA)." 

Compliance with the RUFADAA is vital because it ensures that you and your loved ones safe from identity theft, privacy law violations, loss of money and time, and more. 

Chintala said, “My grandfather passed away, and my dad is the eldest of his siblings. He had to fly to India, where the majority of my family lives, to sort through boxes and boxes of loose documents. Having to deal with guessing what my grandfather’s wishes were while also processing his death was a lot to deal with emotionally.”

It appears that the business world has caught on to the need for a more digital-ready form of estate planning. Clock has won or placed in 12 entrepreneurship competitions in this past year alone. 

It will be interesting, and exciting, to see how Clocr evolves and how it impacts estate planning as we know it.

See Barrett Ward, This UT Student Startup Is Bringing Estate Planning Into the Digital Age, UT News: Business & Economy, March 24, 2021. 

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

March 25, 2021 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 15, 2021

A new program can animate old photos. But there's nothing human about artificial intelligence

AIA new wave of technology has surfaced that allows people to animate old photos and bring them to life. These animated images are made possible by Deep Nostalgia, an artificial intelligence program from the genealogy platform MyHeritage. 

"Users are invited to supply old photos of their loved ones, and the program uses deep learning to apply predetermined movements to their facial features. It also makes up for little moments that aren't in the original photo, like the reveal of teeth or the side of a head." 

This new technology has been described as emotional and heart warming on one side and sort of eerie on the other. Seeing family members and ancestors that have passed or even celebrities come to life is definitely fascinating, but admittedly, its a bit scary to. 

There is a natural human response in the brain that responds to "things that are almost human but not quite." This response, often referred to as the uncanny valley, is set off when we see these types of image manipulations. 

This type of response has the effect of putting your different emotions at odds with each other. Often times, the two emotions at odds are love and fear, especially when seeing a deepfake image of your loved ones. 

As expected with new technology, there is likely to be glitches and inconsistencies with likeness and other issues. It will be interesting to see how these things are corrected as the technology develops. 

See AJ Willingham, A new program can animate old photos. But there's nothing human about artificial intelligence, CNN Business, March 10, 2021. 

March 15, 2021 in Estate Planning - Generally, Film, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 28, 2021

NHS saves children’s lives with world-first ‘dead’ heart transplants

ANNAAnna Hadley, a 16-year-old from Worcester, waited for nearly two years for a new heart. Now, almost two years later, Anna is healthy and playing hockey again. Anna has British surgeons to thank, as they "carried out the world's first transplants in children using dead hearts that were brought back to life." 

The surgeons used a pioneering machine to reanimate hearts from donors whose hearts stopped. So far, use of the machine has saved the lives of six British children ranging in age form 12 to 16. Also, each of the transplants occurred during the pandemic. 

Anna was the first to have her life saved by the pioneering machine. She received the call at 2:30am after she had waited almost two years after being diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy. 

Within 24 hours of the operation, Anna was sitting up in bed. Within weeks, Anna was playing hockey again. Anna said, "I just feel normal again. There's nothing I cannot do now."

See Andrew Gregory, NHS saves children’s lives with world-first ‘dead’ heart transplants, The Sunday Times (U.K.), February 20, 2021. 

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

February 28, 2021 in Current Events, Estate Planning - Generally, Science, Technology | Permalink | Comments (0)