On Demand

Future Planning: Cryptocurrency, Cryonics, & Posthumously Conceived Children in Illinois


Created on June 04, 2018




In this program, attorneys will learn about several futuristic - but genuine - estate planning topics. First: Cryptocurrency. When Bitcoin, the most popular and oldest cryptocurrency, was introduced in 2009, people scoffed and predicted its failure. But just nine years later, Bitcoin operates in a viable market with buyers, sellers, and users, and has spawned more than one-thousand other cryptocurrencies. This development means that estate planning attorneys may be retained by clients with Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency, and will need to guide them in the administration of those assets.

Next: Cryonics and the disposition of a loved one's remains. What happens if those remains are not quite dead but frozen? Despite the moral implications of prolonging life, advances in technology have advanced to allow individuals not only the ability to prolong life but also to freeze their entire body. In this scenario, an estate planning attorney whose client wants to be preserved must understand the statutory interplay among laws related to more than medical Advanced Directives and DNRs.

Third: Conception Post-Death. Within the last decade, comprehensive estate plans have also included genetic reproductive material provisions to protect cryogenically preserved materials such as gametes, or prohibit the storage and use of such materials post-death. Certain states have recently enacted legislation to guide families in this area, and hopefully avoid potential administrative nightmares. Attorneys working with these clients must probe the most intimate corners of clients' lives to help them create a complete plan, while the attorney also seeks to avoid potential malpractice claims.

Teaching this program is Max Elliott, the principal and founder of a Chicago-based firm, The Law Offices of Max Elliott. Her firm practices estate planning and wealth preservation for professionals and small business owners. She is also General Counsel for the Bernie Mac Foundation, Inc., a member of the Chicago Bar Association Trust Law Executive Committee, U.S. Trust Center of Influence on Estate Planning, and American Bar Foundation Fellow. She has presented several times to bar association groups on emerging estate planning topics, such as marriage equality and estate planning for transgender persons.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Discuss what cryptocurrencies are, how they should be legally held and referenced in an estate plan, and how they should be valued and transferred for purposes of estate administration
  2. Identify fiduciary duties that accompany cryonics and other legal responsibilities attached to all parties, become familiar with statutes governing property, decedent remains, and the legal questions regarding frozen tissue versus dead tissue, and understand how wrongful death issues may become estate planning headaches
  3. Delve into prospective estate planning, including virtual representation provisions and the tension between anticipating future technological advances and preventing complex administration challenges

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