Immortality and the Law - Madoff, Ray D. - Yale University Press


Immortality and the Law

The Rising Power of the American Dead

  • Ray D. Madoff
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This book takes a riveting look at how the law responds to that distinctly American dream of immortality. While American law provides virtually no protections for the interests we hold most dear—our bodies and our reputations—when it comes to property interests, the American dead have greater control than anywhere else in the world. Moreover, these rights are growing daily. From grave robbery to Elvis impersonators, Madoff shows how the law of the dead has a direct impact on how we live. Madoff examines how the rising power of the American dead enables the deceased to exert control over their wealth forever through grandiose schemes like "dynasty trusts" and perpetual private charitable foundations and to control their creative works and identities well into the unforeseeable future. Madoff explores how the law of the dead can, in essence, extend the reach of life by granting virtual immortality to individuals. All of this comes, Madoff contends, at real costs imposed on the living.

Ray D. Madoff is a professor at Boston College Law School. She is the lead author of Practical Guide to Estate Planning and has written in a wide variety of areas involving property and death.