Maybe you’re intrigued by the thought of having your body scientifically frozen when you die, on the chance you’ll be revived one day. But the thought of having no ready access to funds when you become dissolved would have your head spinning like a polar vortex.
From the good news you probably never thought you would need department, the legal community has an estate-planning answer for self-preservation that will warm your heart, It is called a Revival Trust, also known as a future income trust.
What Is a Revival Trust?
A revival trust sets aside your assets, usually under supervision by a lawyer or another professional, so if science progresses to the point that you can live a second time, there’ll be money for you to re-live on. It is also a way for an attorney to get his or her hands on your cold, hard cash by writing a trust detailing how the assets will be administrated while you are frozen and given to you if are reincarnated.
Exactly how many people have created revival trusts is unclear. But roughly 400 individuals (including baseball slugger Ted Williams) have been cryonically preserved since the technology begin in the late 1960s and 1,500 have made arrangements to do so upon their death. The revival trust, is a vehicle that would set aside assets that the person would be able to access in the event of being revived. Among some legal professionals, the revival trust is controversial because of the uncertainty of the science around cryogenics. It may also cause conflict with family members who are upset that some of the assets they expected to inherit have been placed in the trust. However, one attorney points out that a client’s wishes should be respected.
Cryonics and it’s Costs
At the Cryonics Institute, a body is placed in something like a giant Thermos bottle called a cryostat, surrounded by liquid nitrogen at -328 degrees, which suspends all activity in the cells. The fluid is checked weekly and topped off, if need be. Before entering the “bottle,” all water is removed from the cells, so it doesn’t expand and rip the cellular tissue apart. There are two cryonics centers in America saddled for this purpose. The Cryonics Institute in Clinton Township, Mich. and the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Pros and Cons of Revival Trusts
Critics view this kind of cryonic preservation and revival trusts with disgust. But certain lawyers, like Kim Kamin, cite a demand for the estate planning documents.
Revival trusts can create family headaches.
Three Estate Planning Item Everyone Needs
1. An up-to-date will or trust
Wills are easy to create, but they require probate for the distribution of assets. Probate is a legal process that involves
- Validating a deceased person’s will
- Identifying, inventorying, and appraising the deceased person’s property
- Paying debts and taxes
- Ultimately distributing the remaining property as the will directs.
The probate process often requires a lot of technical paperwork and court appearances, and the resulting legal and court fees are paid from estate property reducing the amount that is passed on to heirs.
Trusts usually avoid probate, which helps beneficiaries gain access to assets quicker as well as save time and court fees. Depending on how it is structured, a trust may also reduce estate taxes owed and can protect an estate from heirs’ creditors.
2. A durable power of attorney
A power of attorney is a written authorization that allows someone else to make financial and legal decisions for a person if that person should become hospitalized, disabled, or otherwise incapacitated. Not all powers of attorney are created equal. Some are put in place for short periods of time only, while a person is vacationing overseas but dealing with legal matters at home. Powers of attorney for property should only be given to trusted individuals, ideally those who are good with financial and legal matters. Medical powers of attorney, giving someone the authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, can be separate and given to someone else, if desired.
3. Updated beneficiary designation forms
Beneficiary designation forms on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other assets will generally override any conflicting provisions within a will or trust. It is essential to make sure all forms are checked and updated regularly, ideally on an annual basis. An estate planning professional can help you create or update these basic items as well as provide suggestions for additional steps, if needed.
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