Volume 1, Issue 2
2nd Quarter, 2006

Possible Legal Rights of Cryogenically Revived Persons

Christopher Sega

page 3 of 4

Preserved Embryos and Sperm
Other relevant laws are those relating to cryogenically preserved embryos and sperm. There is some analogy here, particularly if we take the position that the revived person is not the same person, but a derivative. There is a great deal of law on the notion of property rights over embryos and sperm, but there is not much on the status of a fetus that has completed gestation as a result of cryogenically preserved sperm or embryos. In Australia and Tasmania, these fetuses are treated as descendants of the donor.

The sperm and egg are from different donors, and each possesses property rights to the fetus. The rights that the fetus has as an heir or descendant are contingent on its being preserved, which means that there are no real rights. Yet that contingent interest will vest because it becomes fixed after gestation is completed.

By analogy, we can consider that a revived person is an heir of the person who was preserved. Thus, while she is in biostasis, the interest is contingent on the property interests. After he or she is revived, that contingent interest will vest.

Transgendered Persons
Another analogous area of law is the treatment of transgendered persons. The notion is that the identity is changed slightly, but there is also great continuity so several protections are afforded to transgendered persons under their new status. Essentially, a transgendered person retains her same interest in property because she maintains civil rights as a person.

We have discussed rights, but what about the other side of the coin – obligations? A revived person maintains her obligations, whether it is to descendants or to the state. She might owe property, estate, or income taxe. She might have obligations to an insurance company.

Some questions arise. If life insurance was paid upon a person's death, should the insurance company be reimbursed when the person is revived? Should they be reimbursed for the value of the death benefit at the time of death or for the value to which those assets have grown during the period of suspension?

There might be an impact on marital status. If the revived person takes a new spouse who already has children, what are her obligations to them? The answer to these questions depends on whether the revived person is defined as the same person, an heir or descendant, or a completely new person.

Protecting Rights
There are many ways to protect the rights of a cryogenically preserved person. One option is to establish a dynasty trust through estate planning. This is a way to control assets from the grave, so to speak.

A preserved person should consider where he or she wants to be domiciled. Choose a jurisdiction that has repealed the Rule Against Perpetuities. Select one that permits dynasty trusts so the person can take advantage of the fact that property can be held indefinitely until revival.

Similarly, a preserved person may want to have property maintenance trusts. These are trusts that hold assets to maintain homes or other property that you plan to re-inhabit upon revival.

Finally, estate taxes are due upon death. A person who plans to undergo cyrogenic preservation should ask whether there is a way to assure that she gets these back when she is revived.

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