Trusts & Estates Magazine: The Virtual Clone Trustee

In an article published in the September 2012 issue of Trusts & Estates, Avi Z. Kestenbaum and Mary P. O’Reilly, co-chairs of Meltzer Lippe’s Trusts & Estates  practice group, with Danielle M. Weiner, co-authored an article entitled “The Virtual Clone Trustee.”

The authors write: “Imagine your client has an identical twin who acts just like him, likes and dislikes all the same things, shares his precise values and goals and reacts and makes decisions in the exact way your client does. Imagine further, this isn’t just your client’s twin, but your client’s clone, and unlike your client, the clone can live forever. Wouldn’t this immortal being be the perfect candidate to serve as trustee of your client’s trusts? Although our clients don’t have clones, much less immortal ones, with the speed at which technology is evolving, the concept of a virtual perpetual clone trustee is probably closer to reality than most realize.

As estate planners, our principal goal is to fulfill our clients’ wishes. For those clients who want to have control or influence beyond the grave, it’s not currently possible to ensure that the estate-planning documents we draft today will accurately carry out their wishes tomorrow. Although trustee selection and guiding trust provisions are the best means to ensure lasting control, after our clients are deceased, we can’t really know with certainty if their wishes are being fulfilled, because we can’t yet accurately predict what they would have decided in specific future situations.”

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