The bet of the most eccentric Americans: Freezing wealth for a future return to life

Specialized firms are creating trust funds designed to extend access to wealth until a time in the future when cryogenic beneficiaries are brought back to life, even hundreds of years later, Bloomberg reports.

Some wealthy Americans believe in cryopreservation as a new chance at life PHOTO SHUTTERSTOCK

No one would want to wake up poor when they come back from the dead. Fortunately, it is much easier for the wealthy to preserve their wealth long after their death than to have the certainty that death can be reversed.

These reviving trusts are an emerging area of ​​law based entirely on assumptions. However, they are taken seriously enough to attract followers and be the subject of discussion at conferences.

“The idea of ​​cryopreservation has gone from silly to downright eccentric,” explained Mark House, a real estate attorney who works for the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona, the world’s largest cryonics facility, with 1,400 members and about 230 people frozen.

“Now that it’s eccentric, it’s kind of cool to be into it”he specified.

According to one estimate, about 5,500 people plan to turn to cryogenic preservation. The cited lawyer estimates that he has worked with around 100 interested persons so far.

Philosophical questions

He and others attempt to answer questions that, in places, seem more suited to a philosophy course.

Can money be preserved indefinitely?

Are you dead if your body is cryopreserved?

Are you considered resurrected if all that’s left of you is your brain?

And if you are somehow brought back to life, are you still the same person?

How to save money for a future life

For Steve LeBel, a former Michigan hospital director now retired, the chance to join the roughly 500 people frozen would be a dream come true.

LeBel, 76, is always finding new ways to pass the time, most recently writing a young adult fantasy novel. He loves living and wouldn’t want money to stand in the way of a second chance at life in the future.

LeBel revealed that for about a year, he has been looking for a fund model with the highest probability of being around for at least 200 years if not longer.

He plans to put $100,000 into his resuscitation trust, leaving the rest to his daughter and her husband and his foundation.

“I really want to find a solution, otherwise I’ll be sitting there with my fingers crossed, hoping there’s money left, 200 years from now, to pay for the resurrection process”LeBel said.

The problem of identity

A future second life trust account is a variant of the dynastic trust, a tool used by the ultra-wealthy who plan to pass their wealth down to multiple generations.

Both can help avoid the 40% federal estate tax on estates worth more than $13.6 million, although investment gains are subject to income tax and trustees charge fees that can be high. House requires clients to have at least $500,000 in such a fund to ensure the fees completely drain them.

How it works

House believes that the resurrected person is legally different, in part because a person cannot be the beneficiary of their own funds. In contrast, in the case of these special trusts, the sole beneficiary would be the resurrected person.

Revoking the death certificate muddies the legal waters, House explained. He must name a protector—a person or entity that can modify the agreement—who has the authority to determine whether the person has been brought back to life.

For Peggy Hoyt, an estate planner in Florida, the resurrected person is one and the same.

Trusts need active beneficiaries, so she stipulates that the client’s family members or the cryogenic facility will receive the money while the client is frozen. Incorporating the cryogenic facility or charity allows some assurance that the fund will have a beneficiary, even if the heirs die. She also asks clients to elaborate on their definition of revival.

“Some people will say that I’m only considering rebirth if I’m the same person I am today, with all my memory intact,” Hoyt said. “Some people are content to say that a human clone would be tantamount to rebirth. Others said they didn’t care if they had a body as long as their brain was uploaded to a computer.”

Perpetual Trusts

Many state laws limit the life of trusts to 90 to 100 years. But some states have repealed or expanded the rule against indefinite-term trusts, said George Bearup, senior trust counsel at Greenleaf Trust.

Arizona, where House lives, now allows trusts to last for 500 years. In Florida, their lifespan is 1,000 years.

That got people thinking, “Well, if I had a fund for 1,000 years, what would I want to do?” Bearup said. “I think that stimulated some of these people to think about preserving their bodies.”

What could go wrong

Like revival prospects, this type of fund carries a risk to the extent that policies or business would undergo changes.

“How do you make something that could happen 1,000 years from now? Who knows what the rules will be?”

An arrangement must take into account emerging technology and medical procedures not yet invented. Trust accounts are normally managed by companies or banks, but no one knows if a trustee will still be around when a person is resurrected.

That’s why flexibility and succession planning for trust managers and protectors is essential.

“When you start looking at a time span of several centuries, you can’t have anything static”House said.

The trust should specify what happens if a certain deadline falls or if, in a few years, scientists realize that it is impossible to resurrect the dead from a frozen brain, said Victoria Haneman, an expert and professor at Creighton University , which studies the consequences of the revival in relation to taxes.

Immortality

The fascination with the possibility of immortality and its implications is undeniable.

As science advances, more people are beginning to see cryopreservation as their last great experiment. Tech moguls Jeff Bezos, Sam Altman, Larry Ellison and Larry Page have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to companies trying to defy death and aging.

Earlier this month, Cradle Healthcare Co., led by biotech prodigy and longevity investor Laura Deming, entered the cryonics scene with $48 million and the promise of developing a warming technology that is key to revival.

“I believe the aging process will be cured”, LeBel said. “It isit’s a disease. The technology isn’t there yet, but I can beat that time frame with cryonics.”