PetWill Radio

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

You meet the most interesting people

I've just attended the annual meeting of the Asset Protection Group, a gathering of unique individuals committed to the ideal of cryonic preservation while protecting their wealth into an unknown future. There were numerous presentations throughout the day including topics such as the introduction of Alcor's model Wealth Preservation Trust, Neural Cryobiology and the Legal Recognition of Cryonics, and the Medico-Legal Need for a Cryonics Friendly Autopsy. I presented on the topic of Personal Revival Trusts and choice of law considerations.

Cryonicists have all the same needs for a comprehensive estate plan with a few interesting twists. Once legal death occurs and they enter a cryopreserved state, their future is uncertain. Today, we don't yet have the technology to reanimate a human being so we don't know how future laws will acknowledge their future "undead" status. We suspect even the definition of "dead" may have to change for these individuals, much the same as there has been legal recognition for the rights of frozen embryos.

There are lots of other concerns, particularly as a person ages and may experience a brain deteriorating disorder. Prolonged disease may result in irreversible damage. As a result, The selection of health care surrogates becomes paramount. Securing assistance from cryo-friendly comrades may mean the difference between an optimal preservation and one that has a limited chance of future success. A traditional Living Will doesn't work for the cryonicist either because life-prolonging procedures need to be maintained but only until the preservation team arrives. Invasive autopsy procedures, along with improper cooling and bureaucratic delays call for an alternate autopsy protocol recognizing the importance of swift action or an ability to avoid autopsy all together. The Society for Venturism provides a "religious objection to autopsy" and accompanying picture identification card for those who support the ideals of the organization and have made prior cryonics arrangements.

A Personal Revival Trust or wealth preservation trust is necessary if assets are going to be preserved for future use. Attention must be paid to important legal details like choice of law, the rule against perpetuities and estate tax concerns. The choice of trustee and trust advisors or protectors is also an important concern. Corporate trustees are an optimal choice on the theory they have a perpetual life. Also critical are the people who will provide oversight and guidance to the activities of the trustee as well as to the interim distribution of assets toward ongoing cryonic research dedicated to unlocking the secret of reanimation. If family members are not supportive of the cryonicists goals, irreversible consequences may be experienced from attempts to terminate the trust to failure to honor the preservation request of the "deceased".

Orville Richardson had his preservation jeopardized despite his prepayment and prearrangements with the Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Inc. At death his family had him embalmed and buried! It wasn't until the family contacted Alcor for a refund of the prepaid arrangements that this terrible result was discovered. After significant litigation reaching the Supreme Court of Illinois, Mr. Richardson was exhumed and cryopreserved. But to what result? Certainly these are devastating facts to an optimal preservation. His family didn't embrace his wishes and he didn't have a plan in place to ensure they were honored.

Suggestions for overcoming a hostile family or friends include not only making pre-arrangements with a cryonics provider but carefully documenting your wishes along with carefully selecting those individuals who may have an influence on handling important near death details. Adding an in terrorem or no contest clause along with alternative dispute resolutions may also provide a deterrent to hostile intervention. Monetary incentives might also be considered to encourage close monitoring and a timely preservation. Careful consideration needs to be given to properly funding your chosen estate plan including the retitling of assets and the designation of beneficiaries.

The future is here. Cryonics is no longer simply a dream or the plot of a sci-fi movie. Advances are being made daily in the technology of cryonics and nanotechnology. The law is evolving to consider new definitions of life and death. The cost of preservation is not out of reach and reserved only for the ultra wealthy. Life insurance products are available to address the cost of preservation and ensuring sufficient wealth is available both for current family needs and future wealth accumulation. Rudi Hoffman, CFP has more know-how in this area than anyone else in the world as the leading cryonics insurance provider.

Cryopreservation is not for everyone. Some of us remain content with the permanence of death and a promise of a heavenly future. That's what makes America a great place to live. We can celebrate our eccentricities while acknowledging our right to choose. You meet the most interesting people that way.

"Do not go where the path may lead;
go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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