To Boldly Go Where No Man (or Woman) Has Gone Before

To Boldly Go Where No Man (or Woman) Has Gone Before

Some random thoughts on estate planning past, present and (more important) future

The times they are a changin’.2 Human knowledge now doubles every 12 months and will soon double every 12 hours. Yet, a mere century ago it took roughly 100 years to double human knowledge.3 This exponentially increasing rate of progress signifies the beginning of a new era for humanity. The implications of scientific and technological advancements for society at large will reach far beyond their impact on estate planning, potentially even changing the nature and essence of what it means to be a “life in being.” We’ll explore the potential impact of these developments in our little estate-planning corner of the rapidly evolving world. Given that we often create structures today that may last as long as 360 years or even in perpetuity, it’s incumbent on us to contemplate with open eyes what that future may look like and build sufficient flexibility into those structures so that (when we’re all long gone) they will be nimble enough to respond to changing circumstances, laws and a society that bears little resemblance to our own. Thus, in planning, as in life, “[w]e must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”4 

Ideas that at one time seemed to be purely “pie in the sky,” 10 or 20 years later may become commonplace. One of us recalls a late night discussion in the late-1980s with a friend who was then working in the burgeoning field of technology. At that time, Google and Facebook weren’t even twinkles in the eyes of their respective founders. The friend was talking about how computers and electronic devices would become ubiquitous in the future and even made a number of seemingly outlandish predictions about how such technologies would become ever-present, including the ability to communicate with people around the world in real-time via computer or hand-held video; access to TV from anywhere in the world at anytime; and the ability to instantaneously access information about any topic at the push of a button. During those days, when the floppy disk, dot-matrix printer and Pac-Man reigned supreme, these concepts were more like science fiction than science fact, seemingly more influenced by the movies “Back to the Future” and “Weird Science” than technological reality. Fast-forward some 25 years later, and those outlandish predictions have become an essential part of our everyday lives. Indeed, for many, it’s a challenge to go a day or even an hour without relying on such basic necessities as email or texting, and it’s wholly unimaginable for our kids to do so.5

Science and technology are rapidly evolving. Just 400 years ago, Galileo was found guilty of heresy for championing the concept of “heliocentrism”—the theory that the Earth and other planets revolved around the sun, rather than around the Earth.6 Contrast the once irrefutable fact that the Earth was the center of the universe with the March 2014 detection of gravitational waves in the cosmic microwave background that’s said to confirm that the Big Bang, until now only theorized to have occurred 13.7 billion years ago, actually did occur.7 Indeed, this discovery is causing many scientists to postulate that our universe may be but one tiny bubble in a sea of “multiverses;”8 perhaps in another 50 or 100 years, the very idea of a universe may be considered as antiquated as the thought of an Earth-centric one.

What does any of this have to do with estate planning? Quite honestly, nothing really. Well, nothing directly that is, other than to illustrate the much broader point that developments in technology and science are advancing at an incredibly rapid pace, and if history is any indication, will continue to challenge and expand our “facts” and notions of reality as they exist today.       

In the parlance of multi-generational estate planners’ speak, 100 years is generally regarded as a relatively short duration. Indeed, when discussing the benefits of multi-generational planning with clients and the advantages of creating generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax-exempt trusts, perhaps in jurisdictions such as Florida (which currently permits trusts to last as long as 360 years) or Alaska, Delaware or South Dakota (which currently permit trusts to last in perpetuity), it’s not uncommon for estate planners to refer in a somewhat dismissive manner to less efficient trust planning that will last for a “short” period of “only 100 years or so.”  

Granted, we as planners often have to address tax implications that occur as the result of the termination of a trust and the consequential and often unwanted passing of taxable assets into the estates of trust beneficiaries at a period in their lives when that’s the very last thing that they need. So, it’s understandable that from our vantage point, a period of 100 years can appear to be short, and more long-term and tax efficient planning may be regarded as desirable. It’s important, however, to consider these recommendations against the backdrop of a rapidly evolving society and how structures we implement today may be interpreted in 50, 100, 200 or, perhaps, 360 years.


Looking Back/Forward 360 Years

How will future technological advances impact the structures we create today? Consider an estate planner creating a trust in 2014 in Florida, which currently provides for a perpetuities limitations period of 360 years. This trust would potentially hold a family’s wealth until the year 2374. Not too shabby. If, however, we’re creating structures that are intentionally designed to last for 360 years, or perhaps longer, it’s not unreasonable to examine how dramatically the world at large and the law have evolved over the past 360 years. 

So let’s first look back 360 years, to the year 1654, and consider how a trust or other document written then, 133 years before the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787, would be interpreted today. The developments in humanity, world history, science and technology that have occurred since 1654, in retrospect, were wholly unimaginable then. For starters, the jurisdiction to which we’re referring didn’t even exist. What we now know as Florida was, at that time, a colony of Spain (a civil law country), and it wouldn’t even be ceded to the United States for another 165 years; a longer period than the traditional rule against perpetuities (RAP)—lives in being plus 21 years. Speaking of lives in being, they weren’t even “in being” all that long at that time, as in the 1650s, the average life expectancy was only about 35 years.9

Of course, the world was a dramatically different place then; nearly unrecognizable by today’s standards. In 1654, Louis XIV was crowned King of France. A mere 11 years later, in 1665, Sir Isaac Newton “discovered” gravity. Imagine, if you will, being a lawyer in 1654 creating a trust that would last for 360 years, let alone forever. Imagine what such a trust would have looked like, and try to imagine administering that trust if it still existed today. Would you even be able to understand and interpret the language used in such a trust instrument?  Of course, trust planning in 1654 would likely bear little resemblance to its predecessors—indeed, the first inter vivos trusts under common law were created during the Crusades when knights leaving for battle would entrust their assets to a feoffee to uses (what we would now think of as the trustee).10 Would you have even planned for taxation then? Would your trust have the ability to change jurisdiction especially as new jurisdictions were created? Would email (after getting past the initial puzzlement of “what on Earth is an ‘email’ and what does the ‘e’ stand for?!?”) be able to substitute for written instruments? Consider that, for example, if George Washington’s grandfather, Lawrence, created such a trust in the year of his death in 1698, based on a 360-year standard, that trust could still be in existence today with over another 43 years to go!11 

Fast-forward 185 years to 1839, when the first Married Women’s Property Acts were enacted in the United States. Under common law, married women couldn’t even own property, enter into contracts or earn a salary. It’s hard to imagine telling a client today that property intended for the client’s daughter would instead pass to the client’s son-in-law, but that’s what a lawyer drafting a trust in 1654 would have considered perfectly standard. Even if you jump a bit further ahead to the more modern age of “Downton Abbey,” we find the storyline of an otherwise would-be impoverished Lord Grantham saving the family’s beloved estate the old-fashioned way, by marrying into money, consequently, becoming the heir of his wife, Lady Grantham’s, father’s estate. New York’s Married Women’s Property Act was passed in 1848 and was used as a model by a number of other states. This Act made it possible for married women in New York State:


. . . to receive, by gift, grant devise or bequest, from any person other than her husband and hold to her sole and separate use, as if she were a single female, real and personal property, and the rents, issues and profits thereof, and the same shall not be subject to the disposal of her husband, nor be liable for his debts.12 


How too would a trust written in 1654, or even in 2004, define a “spouse?” Certainly not in a gender-neutral manner to include same-sex marriages, now legally recognized in many U.S. jurisdictions. What would it take to make an individual one’s spouse for purposes of a trust? What would terminate that relationship for purposes of a trust? Must it be a divorce, or would a legal separation be sufficient? What if state law were to create new mechanisms of altering a marital status, such as an automatic expiration of marriages after a fixed number of years? With society rapidly changing, trusts need to be drafted with flexibility in mind.


Changing Definitions

In addition to the scientific and technological changes over the last 360 years and those certain to come in the next 360 years, our society’s views on marriage and family aren’t static. Terms such as “issue,” “descendants” and “spouse” may be interpreted quite differently through the lenses of society in 1654, 2014 and 2374. Consider that adoption wasn’t recognized at common law.13 Similarly, at common law, a non-marital child had no inheritance rights, although progressive states such as New York permitted a non-marital child to inherit in intestacy from his mother if she had no legitimate children.14 

Today more than half of all U.S. births to women under age 30 occur outside of marriage—and the overall percentage of U.S. births to unmarried women is 41 percent.15 In the five years from 2002 to 2007, the number of U.S. births to unmarried women increased by 26 percent.16 Lest you believe that this is the result of an increase in teenage pregnancy, the percentage of non-marital births attributable to teenage mothers actually decreased from 50 percent to 23 percent from 1970 to 2007.17 In the midst of these social changes, a new phenomenon is emerging—intentional co-parenting.  A number of Internet social networks have already surfaced offering individuals seeking to co-parent an opportunity to meet other like-minded people to enter into a co-parenting partnership without marriage or any romantic entanglement.18 How will the changing family affect the dynastic documents we’re drafting today?  

Consider that not long ago, the idea of human fertilization taking place outside of the body may have been unimaginable, yet since the birth of the first “test tube baby” in 1978, in vitro fertilization (IVF) has become practically commonplace. The impact of IVF and other forms of assisted reproductive technology on estates and trusts, generally, and on multi-generational trusts, to an even greater degree, can be significant. Cryopreserved reproductive material and embryos can now be stored and remain viable for years. In 2010, a healthy baby boy was born from an embryo frozen 20 years earlier.19 

It’s now possible for children to be conceived after the death of one or both genetic parents. As of 2011, the Social Security Administration reported receiving more than 100 applications for Social Security survivor benefits on behalf of such posthumously conceived children.20 State laws have been slow to address inheritance rights of posthumously conceived children, as well as their status under pretermitted heir statutes and inclusion in class gifts. Without applicable statutory guidance, courts are left to interpret wills and trust documents in light of new technology. For example, in Matter of Martin B., the New York County Surrogate’s Court considered a number of trusts created in 1969 for the benefit of the grantor’s children and grandchildren.21 The grantor’s son died in 2001. His widow subsequently used his cryopreserved sperm to have two children. In 1969, when these trusts were created, the grantor couldn’t possibly have envisioned the technology that brought his grandsons into being. The court ultimately held that the grandchildren should be included as descendants of the grantor under the trust instruments.

How might we, as estate planners, build into our documents the necessary flexibility to adapt to the evolving family? We can start by building greater flexibility into our definitions of terms, such as issue, descendant and spouse. For instance, trusts sometimes impose restrictions on certain potential beneficiaries, for example, by limiting the inclusion of non-marital children, but query whether such provisions will be too restrictive in a future in which more children are conceived outside of marriage? Perhaps we should build additional flexibility into our trusts by using powers of appointment (POAs) and/or a “revision of interests” provision permitting the trustee to add or remove beneficiaries?

Advances in human embryo preservation may indirectly impact the administration, not only of the intentionally dynastic trusts mentioned earlier, but also of “pot trusts” created in jurisdictions that still have a more traditional RAP. A number of jurisdictions have proposed “personhood” legislation or state constitutional provisions that would define “human life” as beginning at the moment of fertilization.22 Under Louisiana law, an in vitro fertilized ovum is a juridical person.23 While personhood laws aren’t necessarily designed to impact the law of trusts and the identification and rights of beneficiaries, nonetheless, the potential impact of such legislation is far-reaching. Query whether in a state with a personhood statute and a perpetuities period, a perpetual dynasty trust could be established by creating and preserving a human embryo? If the embryo is a “life in being” under state law, then, presumably, this is a possibility. Further, consider whether a cryopreserved embryo, which might remain in storage for several decades or longer, would have beneficial rights under such a trust agreement and whether fiduciary duties are owed to that embryo? If this question initially strikes you as a little theoretical or “out there,” ask yourself whether the above-mentioned baby born in 2010 from a 20-year-old embryo has or should have any rights under a trust created by his parents or grandparents. We imagine that in 10 to 20 years, that baby would regard the answer to such a question as more than just theoretical. 

We’ve already seen parents using or seeking to use the cryopreserved eggs, sperm or embryos of a deceased child to give life to their own grandchildren.24 What would be the generational assignment of the resulting child? Internal Revenue Code Section 2651(f)(1) provides that, except as provided in the regulations, when an individual is assigned to more than one generation, he’s assigned to the youngest such generation. However, Treasury Regulations Section 26.2651-2(b) provides an exception for grandchildren who are legally adopted by their grandparents when the adoption wasn’t primarily for GST avoidance. Would this exception apply to a posthumously conceived grandchild? Would the predeceased parent exception apply? Or, would the grandparents be treated as the child’s parents without the need to resort to any exception at all?


Here’s to a Long, Long Life 

Medical breakthroughs are on the verge of dramatically extending the life expectancy of babies born today. Indeed, some research suggests that the life expectancy of an individual born in 2014 could be 150 years or perhaps more.25 We’ve already seen scientific advances in cryopreservation allowing for children born to parents past their childbearing age (the “fertile octogenarian” is no longer a purely theoretical concept) or, posthumously, to parents who are already deceased at the time of conception.

The implications of the extension of life on trust structures and beneficial rights could be dramatic and unanticipated. Consider a standard type of dynasty trust in which a generation one (G-1) grantor creates a trust for the benefit of her three children (G-2) and their respective lineal descendants to come, with each beneficiary provided with lifetime access and POAs to change the disposition of assets at any time until his death. At the death of the G-2 beneficiary, assets will pass in further trust for the respective lifetime benefit of each G-3 child of the G-2 beneficiary, and thereafter, each G-4 child of the G-3 beneficiary, and so forth. If we assume a current life expectancy of 90 years for each generational beneficiary, this scenario results in a somewhat orderly and predictable passing on of the beneficial interest when the G-2 beneficiaries die at age 90, and G-3s become the primary lifetime beneficiaries at that time at age 60 (assuming 30 years separates each generation).   

If, instead, in 100 years, the average life expectancy is 150 years, then the disposition scheme of the multi-generational dynasty trust gets more complicated and, perhaps, not consistent with the type of dispositional plan the grantor envisioned when the trust was created 100 years earlier in 2014. Indeed, under such an arrangement, an absurd result could occur in which a younger next generation beneficiary wouldn’t become the primary beneficiary of his parent’s trust share until he’s age 120 or older, and he could be subject to the potential exercise of the parent’s POA and effectively be “robbed” of his expected trust inheritance at a time when he’s already age 120! Similarly, query how potentially significant extensions of life expectancy can have dramatic implications with respect to the perpetuities period of a trust when a “life in being” may last for, say, 150 years, rather than 90.


Artificial Intelligence and Cloning

The notions of artificial extension of life and hybrid human-robotic life26 add a whole other dimension to our discussion. Current advancements in the field of artificial intelligence suggest that by 2029, it may become impossible to distinguish interactions and relationships between humans from those with machines.27 Would we be able to create trusts akin to pet trusts for the upkeep and maintenance of these machines after our deaths? Perhaps Samantha, the talking computer depicted in the movie “Her” will become less fiction and more fact.28 Although today, the concept of Samantha is still a novel one that’s far off in the future, it’s likely a far more plausible concept to us than it was for the original viewers of the 1968 science fiction classic “2001: A Space Odyssey,” featuring the sentient (and homicidal) HAL 9000 computer.  

Indeed, Google is already testing self-driving cars but is facing legal hurdles in many states because motor vehicle laws presume a human is driving.29 While some cars can “speak,” in a sense, and understand basic instructions via voice recognition, they have a while to go before being able to achieve the type of “BFF” status that David Hasslehoff had with his beloved KITT from the 1980’s television series “Knight Rider.” And, while it doesn’t appear that technology has yet re-built a human into a “Six Million Dollar Man,” researchers are on the brink of being able to grow new human organs for replacement of deteriorated ones.30

Aside from the good ole concept of traditional reproduction, how will potential reproduction via cloning impact legal structures in the future? The idea of cloning has been around for several decades—recall the plot from Woody Allen’s 1973 film, “Sleeper,” which involved an attempt to clone a fallen leader from his only remaining body part—his nose. Even today, the concept of cloning animals is “old news,” with Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal, having died over a decade ago. The idea of cloning humans is fraught with ethical, legal, medical and scientific complications, but certainly the idea isn’t a novel one.31 From the standpoint of trust planning, the implications are uncertain. For instance, how would the clone of a beneficiary be characterized in terms of eligibility under the trust? Would the clone be considered a descendant of the beneficiary? Or, would the clone be considered something akin to a sibling of the beneficiary? If so, would the clone be entitled to a pro-rata share of a parent’s trust? Would the clone be an eligible recipient for distributions pursuant to the exercise of a POA to a class of persons? How would the clone be viewed in terms of determination of “lives in being?” Even a cursory consideration of these questions leads to many more questions and, certainly, no answers.


Out-of-this-World Planning

Perhaps even more mind-blowing implications than those we’ve already discussed can arise when we consider the possibility of humans successfully inhabiting another planet, or even moons of other planets, over the course of the next 100 or more years.32 Companies are seeking applicants for a one-way ride to Mars33 to colonize that planet, with successful applicants hoping to become the founding mothers and fathers of a brave new world and, in so doing, attain fame and immortality, not to mention riches beyond measure.34 Indeed, most Americans believe that humans will make it to Mars by 2050.35 Given this eventuality, estate planning in the not-too-distant future could involve concepts that are, quite literally, “out of this world.” 

What are the implications, for instance, of a G-10 beneficiary of a multi-generational dynasty trust created in the year 2014, when that beneficiary has been born on a colony that’s been established on Mars? What will be the tax implications to a trust with beneficiaries who are domiciliaries of Mars? What reporting requirements will apply to “foreign” accounts on Mars? What are the implications in the event of a conflict? Even if a conflict could be resolved, how is the resolution enforced when we’re talking about a jurisdiction that takes months and millions of dollars to travel to at our fastest possible rates of propulsion. How will things as basic as computations of time (for example, a “day count” for residency purposes) or values (for example, valuation of an ounce of gold) be determined when we’re dealing with a planet with its own computations of days, years and relative weight, based on its own solar orbit and gravitational pull? Will some sort of inter-planetary “exchange rates” need to be adopted to make these determinations?

Now let’s get even a little further “out there.” Speaking of life on Mars, what if over the next 100 years or so, it’s discovered that other life, some intelligent (some perhaps very intelligent), exists in the universe? Many prominent scientists contend that given the massive size of the universe, the odds are that there are other intelligent civilizations out there and that it’s mathematically difficult, not to mention arrogant, to definitively conclude that we’re alone.36 Carl Sagan’s “cosmic calendar,” in which the entire 13.7 billion years of the universe is compressed into a single calendar year, starkly illustrates that all of written human history occurs in only the last few seconds of 11:59 pm on Dec. 31,37 not to mention the emerging theory that many scientists are proposing that the birth of our universe with the Big Bang may actually be a not very unique event and is, instead, one of infinite events that are produced on the other side of a black hole as a consequence of “torsion.”38 Consider that our Sun is just an average star in an outer-fringe neighborhood of our galaxy that would appear to enjoy, in the words of Lorde’s hit “Royals,” “no post code envy.” Further consider that the Milky Way by itself contains some 200 to 400 billion stars; consider further, that our galaxy is only one of over a 100 billion galaxies in the known universe; consider even further that within this massive ocean of galaxies, the very closest star to our earth, Proxima Centauri, is still 4.24 light years away from us.39 In other words, that’s a whole lotta space out there.

In addition, recent findings here on Earth have expanded our understanding of the types of environments, sometimes extreme, where, as unlikely as it seems, life manages to survive. For instance, a microbe was recently discovered a half mile underneath the surface of the ice in Antarctica.40 Additionally, on an increasingly frequent basis, scientists are discovering Earthlike planets containing water and revolving around relatively nearby stars considered to be in our galactic neighborhood.41 With the increasing frequency of these discoveries, both near and far, perhaps we could be getting closer to finally answering the eternal question: “Are we alone?” If the answer to this question is “No,” then the implications to the estate-planning practice, not to mention the rest of humanity and the world at large (the repercussions of which are well above our paygrade), could make for a much longer and more interesting article.42


Back to Earth

In this article, we’ve taken what we hope has been a though-provoking and entertaining journey all over space and time. We hope the take-away practice point for the estate planner is simple—flexibility in planning is essential. Estate planning is largely about planning for the future, and in the case of multi-generational trust planning, way into the future. If you don’t know what the future holds—how do you plan for it? The answer is by designing flexible structures that can evolve in step with the evolution of a future world that no one can possibly predict. 

Trusts are often described as vehicles to carry a family’s wealth into the future. If you think about actual vehicles (such as a car, boat or even a spacecraft)—even the best designed vehicle needs some tweaking as it racks up some miles. The ability to tweak a trust—such as a power to make administrative amendments—can help ensure that the trust remains an effective vehicle for a family for longer. What about the driver of a car or the pilot of a plane? The same person can’t be behind the wheel with no way to remove him, even if he’s asleep at the wheel or running the car off the road. To turn back to trusts, have a trust protector or a beneficiary with removal or replacement powers to ensure that the right trustee is in place and that the trustee can be held accountable. 

Speaking of trustee provisions, think, for example, of a trust from 100 years ago that provides that the trust must have at least four trustees, one of which must be a corporate trustee. That provision could be the result of a thoughtful grantor wanting the benefits of corporate recordkeeping and consistency with the input of family members. If a client asked us to achieve those wishes today, we might suggest a directed trust or a private trust company—estate-planning tools that weren’t widely in use until fairly recently. However, if the requirement for four trustees is hardwired into a trust and there’s no power to amend, more drastic measures may be needed to obtain the optimal structure. 

Like any vehicle, a trust can take you only so far. Even trusts with flexible provisions have inherent limitations, and it may become time to switch to a new vehicle. The power to decant trust property or for beneficiaries to exercise POAs can allow for trust property to be put into a new structure that can carry the wealth even further into the future—and who knows—maybe into a trust structure that’s, literally, out of this world.   



1. See Ray Kurzweil, “Ask Ray: Interesting Interview with Jewish Thinker Who Says Human Level Artificial Intelligence Could be Just 30 Years Away” (July 16, 2014), http://www.kurzweilai.net/ask-ray-jewish-scholar-says-robots-will-achieve-human-level-intelligence.

2. And, with the changin’ times, we’re called upon by Bob Dylan to observe all that’s happening “come writers and critics who prophesize with your pen, keep your eyes wide…” but at the same time, we’re observing the challenges our field will likely face, as opposed to predicting the future and the solutions because, as Dylan said—“don’t speak too soon for the wheel is still in spin… for the times they are a changin’.”

3. David Russell Schilling, “Knowledge Doubling Every 12 Months, Soon to be Every 12 Hours,” Industry Tap (April 19, 2013), www.industrytap.com/
(referencing Buckminster Fuller, Critical Path (1981)).

4. Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland (1865).

5. A new survey commissioned by Bank of America found that among those ages 18 to 24, 90 percent viewed their smartphone as more of a necessity than deodorant, and 93 percent found it more of a necessity than a toothbrush. Amit Chowdhry, “Nearly Half of U.S. Adults Wouldn’t Last a Day Without a Smartphone, Says Survey,” Forbes (June 30, 2014), www.forbes.com/sites/amitchowdhry/2014/06/30/nearly-half-of-u-s-adults-wouldnt-last-a-day-without-a-smartphone-says-survey/.

6. Maurice A. Finocchiaro, The Galileo Affair (1989).

7. http://wmap.gsfc.nasa.gov/universe/uni_life.html.

8. Dan Vergano, “Big Bang Discovery Opens Doors to the ‘Multiverse,’” National Geographic (March 18, 2014), http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140318-multiverse-inflation-big-bang-science-space/.

9. Margaret Whitehead, “Life and Death Over the Millennium in Health Inequalities Decennial Supplement,” Series DS No. 15,  7–28 (Frances Dever and Margaret Whitehead eds., 1997).

10. Bogert Trusts & Trustees, 3rd ed., Section 2. For an excellent discussion of the origins and evolution of trust structures through history, see Ronald D. Aucutt’s presentation at the 48th Annual Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning, “Must We Trust a Trust That’s Just a Crust That Wast a Trust?” (Jan. 16, 2014).

11. This example was suggested to the authors by attorney Edward Koren, who was involved in drafting the legislation for Florida’s 360-year statute. A friend of one of the authors claims to be a descendant of the father of our country, and indeed, would be happy to be a beneficiary of such a multi-generational trust.

12. Text available at the website of the Law Library of Congress at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/awhhtml/awlaw3/property_law.html.

13. In New York, for example, while adopted children are now presumed to be included in a class gift to children, descendants or issue, this wasn’t the case just over 50 years ago.

14. John J. Crowe, “Judicial Limitations on the Rights of Adopted Children to Inherit From Their Natural Relatives as Issue: In re Best,” 60 St. John’s L. Rev. 2 (1986). In 1965, New York changed its law to permit non-marital children to inherit in intestacy from their mother, regardless of whether she was survived by marital issue and allowed inheritance through the father if an adjudication of paternity was made during the father’s lifetime.

15. Jason DeParle and Sabrina Tavernise, “For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage,” New York Times (Feb. 17, 2012).

16. Stephanie J. Ventura, “Changing Patterns of Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief No. 18 (May 2009).

17. Ibid.

18. Abby Ellin, “Making a Child, Minus the Couple,” New York Times (Feb. 8, 2013).

19. See Cynthia S. Marietta, “Birth of Healthy Baby From 20-Year-Old Frozen Embryo Raises Ethical Questions,” Health Law Perspectives (January 2011), Health Law & Policy Institute, University of Houston Law Center.

20. Astrue v. Capato, 132 S.Ct. 202 (2012) (holding that eligibility of a posthumously conceived child to receive Social Security survivor benefits is determined by reference to state intestacy law, not by proof of biological parentage).

21. Matter of Martin B, NYLJ (N.Y. Co. Surr. Ct. 2007) (Aug. 6, 2007). 

22. Colorado introduced the first stand-alone personhood legislation by way of a 2008 ballot initiative. This Constitutional amendment would have given all persons, “from the beginning of [their] biological development,” rights under the Colorado Constitution. It was rejected by Colorado voters both in November 2008 and when presented again in November 2010.

23. Louisiana Revised Statutes Sections 9:121–9:133.

24. See James E. Bailey, “An Analytical Framework for Resolving the Issues Raised By the Interaction Between Reproductive Technology and the Law of Inheritance,” 47 DePaul L. Rev. 743 (Summer 1998).

25. Researchers have discovered a way through the manipulation of certain genes in laboratory mice to extend the average life expectancy of a group of mice by 20 percent compared to the life expectancy of a control group. J. Julie Wu et al., “Increased Mammalian Lifespan and a Segmental and Tissue-Specific Slowing of Aging after Genetic Reduction of m TOR Expression,” 4 Cell Reports 5, 913-920 (September 2013). In addition, researchers at the Buck Institute on Research and Aging have discovered a way to alter genes in a manner that resulted in worms living to the human equivalent of 400 to 500 years old. The implication of this finding could be as radical in application as having a 100-year-old person living in a 30-year-old body. Di Chen et al., “Germline Signaling Mediates the Synergistically Prolonged Longevity Produced by Double Mutations in daf-2 and rsks-1 in C. elegans,” 5 Cell Reports 6, 1600-1610 (December 2013). Futurist Ray Kurzweil contends that the concept of mortality for intelligent beings will disappear by 2100. See Ray Kurzweil, The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence (2000).

26. Already, the ideas of microchips being implanted in the human brain or contact lenses that have Internet access is being discussed. Mi-Sun Lee et al., “High-Performance, Transparent, and Strechable Electrodes Using Graphene-Metal Nanowire Hybrid Structures,” 13 Nano Letters, 2814-2821 (2013); Jon Cohen, “Memory Implants,” MIT Technology Review (May/June 2013), www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/513681/memory-implants/.

27. Cadie Thompson, “Computers Will Be Like Humans by 2029: Google’s Ray Kurzweil,” CNBC (June 11, 2014), www.cnbc.com/id/101751468.

28. Ibid.

29. Doug Newcomb, “Are You Ready to Give Your Keys to a Self-Driving Car?” PC Magazine (July 11, 2014), www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2460645,00.asp; John Markof, “Google Lobbies Nevada to Allow Self-Driving Cars,” New York Times (May 10, 2011), www.nytimes.com/2011/05/11/science/11drive.html?_r=2&emc=eta1&.

30. Already, doctors have been able to grow artificial organs, such as hearts and lungs, by attaching living cells from a donor to a type of synthetic 3-D printed organ “scaffolding,” on which the cells can attach and grow into a fully functioning organ. Henry Fountain, “A First: Organs Tailor-Made With Body’s Own Cells,” New York Times (Sept. 15, 2012), www.nytimes.com/2012/09/16/health/research/scientists-make-progress-in-tailor-made-organs.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.

31. See, e.g., John A. Robertson, Liberty, Identity, and Human Cloning, 76 Tax. L. Rev. 1371 (1998); Judith A. Johnson and Erin D. Williams, Cong. Research Serv., RL 31358, “Human Cloning” (2006).

32. Dirk Schulze-Makuch and Paul Davies, “To Boldly Go: A One-Way Human Mission to Mars,” 12 Journal of Cosmology, 3619-3626 (October 2010).

33. Mars-One is the most notable example of a company seeking applicants for those who will potentially be the first to inhabit Mars, www.mars-one.com.

34. I Planetary Resources, Inc., a company backed by Google executives, has enlisted several billionaire investors, including Sir Richard Branson, to engage in a robotic asteroid mineral mining project that has the potential to return trillions of dollars to investors willing to risk their capital. Beth Jinks, “Google Chiefs Back Startup Mining Asteroids for Metals,” Bloomberg
(April 24, 2012), www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-24/google-chiefs-back-startup-mining-asteroids-for-metals.html.

35. Katie Reilly, “Majority of Americans Expect NASA Astronauts to Land on Mars by 2050,” Pew Research Center (June 21, 2013), www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/06/21/majority-of-americans-expect-nasa-astronauts-to-land-on-mars-by-2050/.

36. See Neil deGrasse Tyson, “Life in the Universe, testimony to the House Committee on Science, Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics,” (July 12, 2001),

37. Carl Sagan, The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence (1977).

38. Niayesh Afshordi, Robert B. Mann and Razieh Pourhasan, “The Black Hole at the Beginning of Time,” Scientific American (August 2014).

39. Fraser Cain, “What is the Closest Star,” Universe Today (June 14, 2013), www.universetoday.com/102920/what-is-the-closest-star/.

40. Michael D. Lemonick, “The Hunt For Life Beyond Earth,” National Geographic (July 2014).

41. David Perlman, “New Planet Discovered That Just Might Hold Life,” SFGate (April 17, 2014), http://m.sfgate.com/science/article/New-planet-discovered-that-just-might-hold-life-5410479.php.

42. “NASA’s Kepler Discovers First Earth–Size Planet in the ‘Habitable Zone’ of Another Star” (April 17, 2014), www.nasa.gov/ames/kepler/nasas-kepler-discovers-first-earth-size-planet-in-the-habitable-zone-of-another-star/.