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Staying A Head

immortality-photos-slide-Q7WJ-superJumboIn a slow week in celebrity estate news, the only newsworthy item is an NYT article about cryonics and a young woman who had her brain preserved upon her death from cancer 2 years ago.  To raise the $80K needed to pay for the freezing of her brain until her brain can be brought back to life in the future, she and her boyfriend posted a plea on Reddit.   A post-death brain scan has shown that the chemo-preservatives needed to protect her brain from ice damage only reached the outer level of her brain.

Several points, mostly dorm room existential:

1.  If you could be brought back to life, but everyone you knew had died, would you still want to be brought back?

2.  If you are the boyfriend and your long dead girlfriend was brought back to life, would you leave your current spouse and family to be with her?

3.  If 80% of your dead girlfriend’s brain is damaged by the freezing, would she still be the person you would want to be with?

4.  Would Bill Clinton preserve Hillary’s brain?  Or vice versa?  I think we all know this answer.

5.  If the young woman ever wanted Ted Williams’ autograph, or to meet Walt Disney, cryopreservation was her only hope.

 

 

Let The Wild Rumpus Start!

The NYT reported yesterday on the administration of the the estate of Maurice Sendak, author of the beloved “Where the Wild Things Are”. One of the 3 executors is his caretaker and housekeeper of 30 years (the other 2 are his attorney and the longtime production manager for his publisher). Together they decided to withdraw 10,000 books previously lent to the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia.  The museum has since sued the estate claiming that original Beatrix Potter books (“The Tale of Peter Rabbit”) and William Blake owned by Sendak are not children’s books and should be given to the museum per his will which left his children’s books to his foundation.   The bulk of the estate will create a museum and study center from his house and a foundation to support emerging artists.

Several points:

1.  Before the NYT ran corrections to the article, I was going to emphasize how important the selection of an executor is.  Sendak realized that by naming 3 executors of  his large estate.

2.  One of the last things we need in this country is another home turned into museum of an artist/author.  We have 15,000 already, most of which are underfunded and rarely visited (only 2,300 visitors to the Flannery O’Connor museum this year so far).

3.  The argument of the Rosenbach Museum that books by Beatrix Potter are not children’s books is specious.  No adult reads her works when not reading bedtime stories to children.

4.  Before the lawyers roar their terrible roars, gnash their terrible teeth, and roll their terrible eyes, they should concede that the works of William Blake are not children’s books (pictures aside) and appeal only to a small segment of adults who are impervious to the misspelling of “Tiger.”

Hat tip to Julie Engebrecht for forwarding the NYT article to me.

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Out of Sight, Out of Mind

The NYT blogged about a woman who left her estate to her daughters while disinheriting the children of her son who predeceased her.  Although she was suffering from dementia, two weeks before her death she re-affirmed a prior will which included the grandchildren from her dead son.  She then changed her mind five days later and excluded the grandchildren.  The grandchildren challenged the will and eventually settled for a small amount to be shared among them.   The protagonist granddaughter decried that she wished her grandmother had conversed with her about the will and that she wished her grandmother had left her wishes in a letter.

Several points:

1.   Wills may be challenged on the grounds of undue influence (“Mom, leave it to us, our dead brother’s kids are never around”) and lack of mental capacity (i.e. dementia).  Both grounds seem to be present in this case.  It seems that they could have fought longer for their father’s share.

2.  When one’s parent dies and one wishes to inherit the deceased parent’s share of a grandmother’s estate, constant contact, e-mails, visits, thinking of you cards, and holiday gatherings are time well spent.

3.  Contrary to the granddaughter’s naive wishes, clients never tell someone they are are being disinherited much less express those wishes in a writing.  The will serves as that written document.  The woman, Kate, was smart to not use her last name lest she and her naivete be subject to ridicule by those who met her.

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The “Fun” in Funeral

Taking another break from newsworthy estate issues, the NYT reported about the beginning of a funeral trend primarily in New Orleans where the deceased is not in a coffin but is posed as if alive.  A 53 year old woman was recently posed at a table holding her cigarette with a can of Busch beer in front of her. In April, a socialite was posed sitting on a bench on a downtown theater greeting guests.

Several points:

1.  Although the Big Easy boasts of putting the fun in funeral, spectacles are not always fun but can be morbid.

2.  I suspect that the beer and cigarette depicted might have contributed to the woman’s death at 53.

3. I know they were going for authenticity, but the woman was posed with a Busch beer instead of a nice microbrew as her final beer?FUNERAL-master675-v3

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All Posts By Jay Brinker

I am an attorney located in Cincinnati, Ohio who practices in the areas of estate planning, probate, asset protection, and small business advice. I make a difficult and bewildering process as simple as possible. Most importantly, I provide "more for less" for my clients.