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Cryonics requires new ways of thinking about estate plans

It sounds like something from a science fiction movie. The heroes blast into the future where they will tackle new challenges, but because of the long voyage, their lives must be scientifically suspended, like pressing a pause button. However, it is not so far-fetched. More and more people are considering cryonics as a way of preserving their bodies at the end of their lives until such time as medical and scientific advancements have cured whatever ended their lives, even old age.

If cryonics is something you might consider, you should know that there are many factors to weigh, including your estate plan. Cryonics is not cheap, and your estate plan providing for this chance at renewed life may raise many conflicts among your heirs.

How does cryonics work?

One of the two most commonly used cryonics centers is right here in Arizona. At this and other centers, they place the bodies of clients in a special container and surround it with liquid nitrogen at hundreds of degrees below freezing to suspend all cell activity. Technicians monitor and maintain the fluids with the expectation that someday scientists will develop the technology to reverse the cryonics process.

In preparation for that day, you will want to examine the many financial implications, for example, the cost of the cryonics process can be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. At the time of your revival, you will want to ensure you have the finances you need to resume your life, including the potential for additional medical bills.

Establishing a revival trust

You may wish to seek information about a revival trust, which is an estate planning tool many use when they sign up for cryonics. Like other forms of trusts, a revival trust becomes the owner of the assets you fund to it, and as the trustee, you or another reliable party manage and distribute the assets according to the terms of the trust. With cryonics, it is important to understand the unique nature of this situation, for example:

  • The possibility exists that the assets in your estate will be used up by the time you emerge from your cryonic state.
  • You may face tax implications since the IRS has not yet determined whether it will tax someone who emerges from a cryonic state as a new taxpayer or whether it will tax your income from the trust a second time.
  • There is no way to know the state of the economy after you emerge from your cryonic state.
  • Your natural heirs may be very upset when you use their inheritance for your revival trust.

In fact, you can expect at least some of your loved ones to fiercely disapprove of such a drastic decision. Given the many unknown variables in the situation, you will want to ensure your trust and other preparations are as legally sound as possible.

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