• Day 19: Digital Death Bill Marches Onward

    Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act Approved
    A new act approved today by a national law group provides comprehensive provisions governing access to digital assets. The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA) was approved by the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) at its 123rd Annual Meeting in Seattle
    Uniform Law Commission Press Release (July 16, 2014)

    The Death Reference Desk has been so busy this week with all things assisted dying that we missed an important development in the digital death world.

    Earlier this week, the Uniform Law Commission approved a new model law that allows access to digital assets, i.e., photos, documents, social media accounts, etc., by a person other than the original owner if an executor is named.

    The ULC develops proposed legislation for potential use by all 50 US States. This particular bill is important for anyone thinking about who or whom will have access to your digital files, assets, properties, e-mails, photos, etc., after you die.

    We’ve only got the press release to work from right now, which isn’t ideal, but there will more to come about the ULC’s approval.

    The approved bill is summed up this way:

    In the modern world, digital assets have largely replaced tangible ones. Documents are stored in electronic files rather than in file cabinets. Photographs are uploaded to web sites rather than printed on paper. However, the laws governing fiduciary access to these digital assets are in need of an update.

     

    The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act [UFADAA] solves the problem using the concept of “media neutrality.” If a fiduciary would have access to a tangible asset, that fiduciary will also have access to a similar type of digital asset. UFADAA governs four common types of fiduciaries: personal representatives of a deceased person’s estate; guardians or conservators of a protected person’s estate; agents under a power of attorney; and trustees.

    But don’t worry, if you want to hide embarrassing e-mail messages or make sure that no one knows about your online shenanigans (we’re not judging) then this proposed legislation covers those situations too.

    Just remember: if you don’t want the kids to know about it, then don’t do it online.

    You can read the bill here.

    Unless, of course, we’re all just living in a digital simulation.

    Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act Approved A new act approved today by a national law group provides comprehensive provisions governing access to digital…

  • Day 18: The House of Lords Approves Assisted Dying Bill for Committee Review

    Assisted Dying Bill [HL] 2014-15 Private Members’ Bill (Starting in the House of Lords) Sponsor: Lord Falconer of Thoroton (July 18, 2014) It’s an over…

  • Day 17: Moral Maze Radio Programme on Assisted Dying

    Moral Maze: Assisted Dying BBC Radio 4 (July 16, 2014) The Moral Maze programme on BBC radio is a long-running show dedicated to debating and…

  • Day 16: UK Prime Minister David Cameron Answers Assisted Dying Question

    David Cameron ‘not convinced’ over assisted dying bill
    PM speaks of worry about legalising euthanasia, but says he would be very happy for Commons to debate issue
    Rowena Mason and Agencies, The Guardian (July 16, 2014)

    Today saw another interesting development in the lead up to Friday’s debate on assisted dying in the UK’s House of Lords.

    Prime Minister David Cameron was asked about the upcoming debate during the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs). The Prime Minister is asked everything and anything by members of parliament during the PMQs and, in theory, has to quickly formulate some kind of response.

    His answer to the assisted dying question was intriguing. He made it clear that he thought the debate should move forward but that he personally didn’t support a change to the law.

    He used the word ‘euthanasia’ in his response, which is a key word choice. The House of Lords is debating an assisted dying law, not a euthanasia law. Assisted dying laws usually mean a person is given a lethal dose of a drug and then that person has to physically administer and ingest the drug in order to die. Euthanasia occurs when one person puts another person to death, i.e., person A injects person B with a drug so that person B will die.

    The words make a significant legal difference for any kind of death with dignity law.

    You can watch video of the entire (relatively short) exchange starting at 28:20.

    I also suggest watching the faces and reactions of the other MPs. It seems that right now many MPs would rather debate anything other than a law on assisted dying. This could change after Friday.

    David Cameron ‘not convinced’ over assisted dying bill PM speaks of worry about legalising euthanasia, but says he would be very happy for Commons to…

  • Day 15: New Developments in the UK Assisted Dying Debate

    Assisted dying: leading doctors call on Lords to back legalisation Twenty-seven leading figures write to every peer urging them to back Lord Falconer’s private members…

  • Day 14: Important Week for Assisted Dying in England and Wales

    Religious activists have too much say over our right to die The question of assisted dying needs to be discussed rationally and not held to…

  • Day 13: Online Volunteers Who Identify Unidentified Human Remains

    Online Supersleuths There’s an estimated 40,000 unidentified human remains in the United States. When writer Deborah Halber heard this figure, she did some research and…

  • Day 12: Posthumous US Citizenship Granted to Dead People

    The Art of Getting American Citizenship After You’re Dead Only seven people ever have. Jim Festante, Slate (July 12, 2014) Chalk this one up to…

  • Day 11: Planet of the Apes Grieving for Their Ape Kind Dead

    Want to Understand Mortality? Look to the Chimps
    Maggie Koerth-Baker, New York Times Magazine (June 25, 2013)

    Today is the release date for the new Planet of the Apes movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

    We’ll set aside all the timeline problems and alternative universes this specific reboot created. And no one should ever speak again of Tim Burton’s terrible remake.

    What everyone should be discussing is how apes grieve for their dead. The New York Times Magazine ran an article in June 2013 on this topic. The Death Reference Desk has also written about Chimpanzees and grief before, in 2010 and 2009.

    You can also read more generally about animals and death here.

    Whenever we Humans start discussing our primate cousins and grieving, we run the risk of going on an anthropomorphising rampage. That said, it’s clear that our Great Ape relatives could teach us a few things about understanding mortality and the finality of time.

    Want to Understand Mortality? Look to the Chimps Maggie Koerth-Baker, New York Times Magazine (June 25, 2013) Today is the release date for the new…

  • Day 10: When People Die from Broken Hearts

    Can You Die From a Broken Heart?
    What happens to our bodies when the bonds of love are breached.
    Kirsten Weir, Nautilus (July 10, 2014)

    Death by broken heart. It’s the worst.

    I wish I knew how to quit you!

    We also recommend checking out Nautilus, which is good Science and Culture publication.

    Can You Die From a Broken Heart? What happens to our bodies when the bonds of love are breached. Kirsten Weir, Nautilus (July 10, 2014)…

  • Day 9: Tick-Tock Goes This Mortal Coil’s Clock

    Nothing Focuses The Mind Like The Ultimate Deadline: Death A Swedish inventor came up with a wristwatch that counts down the seconds left in your…

  • Day 8: Hot Dog Eating Contests Can Kill You (in South Dakota)

    South Dakota man dies after choking during hot-dog eating contest
    Walter Eagle Tail, 47, died at a hospital on Thursday after attempts to save him at the scene failed, police said
    Associated Press (July 8, 2014)

    I was writing a verbose and longish post about radical life extension today but then this story about a man dying during a hot dog eating contest popped up and, well, living to 500 can wait.

    I’m inclined to say that this is a mid-year entry into the annual Darwin Awards but it sounds like the gentleman who died was a decent guy. He just had some bad luck.

    Out of curiosity, I started poking around the internet to see what kind of safety warnings accompanied eating contests and, lo, I was not disappointed. This WebMD article, helpfully titled Competitive Eating: How Safe Is It?, covers all the bases. Then this Time article called Here’s What Competitive Eating Does to Your Body really goes in-depth on what these contests do to your innards and made me never want to eat food again.

    And while this specific story is certainly tragic, it did remind me of the hot dog eating scene in the movie Meatballs.

    South Dakota man dies after choking during hot-dog eating contest Walter Eagle Tail, 47, died at a hospital on Thursday after attempts to save him…