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Estate planning for second lives

Estate documents are usually utilized for assuring the proper distribution of funds after a person dies or dealing with issues near the end of their lives. But, there is also reassuring news for those who plan to have their body scientifically frozen for future revival. Estate planning may cover this process, known as cryonics, through the creation of a future income trust, which allows access to assets until a person is ultimately revived and keeps the trust's contents from melting away.

Two cryonics centers exist in this country. The Cryonics Institute in Clinton, Michigan, has almost 200 bodies in storage. It places the body is a large container known as a cryostat. Liquid nitrogen at negative 328 degrees suspends all cell activity. Fluid is checked each week and topped off when necessary. All water is removed from the cells before the body is placed in this device, so it does not expand and tear the cellular tissue apart. This facility charges $28,000.

Preserving a body, however, requires toxic chemicals that creates problems on the disposal of any leftover waste from the cryonics process. A technological breakthrough on revitalization, if it ever occurs, may be decades or hundreds of years away.

A future income trust, also known as revival trust, sets aside and preserves assets until revival occurs. One of the problems is that an unhappy and disinherited heir or beneficiary may file beneficiary challenges and the trust planning should anticipate these challenges. It may be difficult to find a financial institution to keep trust documents that will be in existence indefinitely. Nonetheless, the trust should have a termination date. Also, the Internal Revenue Service could treat the revived person as a new taxpayer. It may double tax the trust assets at the time of preservation and at revival if ever occurs.

This is just one type of estate planning available, but all forms should be handled with the help of an experienced attorney. No matter what type you choose, the guidance will be valuable in ensuring it is a viable option.

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