We’re told that robots can’t be trusted to drive cars, but they can be trusted to analyze corporate merger documents?
Why the ongoing enthusiasm for replacing lawyers with robots?
The September installment of my Estate Planning Law Report is in the mail and is posted in the publications section of deconcinimcdnald.com. It addresses frequently asked questions about wills, with an emphasis on why it’s necessary to make sure you preserve the original of your will.
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There is a story getting national attention about a 14 year old girl who has a fatal degenerative disease. It’s getting national attention because the girl has asked that treatments be withdrawn. Unfortunately, two discussions of the situation that I saw recently only confuse the issues the situation raises.
There are two clear issues raised by this situation. First, does a person have a right to refuse treatment, even if the treatment is necessary to keep the person alive? The answer is clearly, yes. A living will, recognized in Arizona and, I believe, all other jurisdictions in the United States, allows a person to direct that treatment be withheld or withdrawn. A health care power of attorney allows a person to delegate the decision to withhold or withdraw life-saving treatment to someone else if the person is no longer able to make or communicate the decision.
Second, can a fourteen year old child refuse treatment? I’m not sure, but I don’t think so. Fourteen year olds generally are considered legally incompetent to make decisions, with certain exceptions not relevant to this discussion. The child’s parents or legal guardian are the people who have the legal authority to make that decision for the child.
There is one big issue that this situation doesn’t appear to implicate: assisted suicide. Unfortunately, both of the discussions I mentioned earlier bring up that issue, without distinguishing it from the issue of refusing treatment. It seems obvious to me that assisting a person in causing the person’s death is different from withholding treatment at the request of the person receiving the treatment. Why bring up the difficult issue of assisted suicide when it doesn’t have anything to do with the situation?
I recommend that every adult should at least consider signing a living will. If you have not signed a living will and would like to consider it, let me know. I’ll send you the Arizona form, at no cost to you.
REVISED UNIFORM FIDUCIARY ACCESS TO DIGITAL ASSETS ACT IS A GOOD IDEA, BUT HAS INHERENT LIMITATIONS
At last report, 19 states including Arizona have enacted the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA for you acronym mavens). One problem that immediately occurs to me is that unless California adopts RUFADAA or something like it, its adoption in other states may not do much good.
Why? Because California is where Google and Facebook are, of course, not to mention Yahoo. At least Microsoft’s home state of Washington has adopted it.
I’ll get more into the details of the legislation in future posts.
The fact that RUFADAA has been adopted in Arizona but not in California is another reason to use (Arizona based) GoDaddy for email and web hosting.
THERE ARE PRETTY STRINGENT RULES ABOUT HOW MUCH PARKING SPACE A PROPERTY OWNER MUST PROVIDE WHEN BUILDING ANYTHING NEW
Somehow, I don’t think the photo at the top of this post by the Antiplanner depicts a scene that you would expect to encounter anywhere in the United States, no matter how commonplace it might be in England (really?), but I suppose it’s possible if the neighborhood is old enough. Actually, there are older parts of Tucson where I wonder how things got built with as little parking as there is.
If you’re building something today, however, there are rules, and pretty stringent ones at that, about how much parking space the property owner must provide. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the development standards for any major municipality. The amount of space required varies according to the use, of course. Before the plans for your project are approved, someone on the municipal planning staff whose job it is to calculate such things is going to make sure that your plans meet the standards.
LOOKS TO ME LIKE IT SHOULD BE CALLED THE “PLEASE FACEBOOK AND GOOGLE LET ME INTO MY DECEASED (OR DISABLED) LOVED ONE’S ACCOUNTS” ACT
The Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act has just been adopted in Arizona.
My first reaction to it is in the title to this post. I don’t mean that to be taken as editorial comment. It’s just my shorthand reading of what the legislation does.
I’ll probably discuss the legislation in more detail in future posts. In the meantime, if you want to read it for yourself, it’s at the end of title 14 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.
I WANT TO RANT JUST A BIT ON THE NOTION THAT THE GOVERNMENT CAN POLICE MY DECISIONS IN GIVING AWAY MY PROPERTY
I wrote a few days ago about a case in which a woman asked a court to invalidate her father's will because its contents were was motivated by religious bias, and should therefore be disallowed under antidiscrimination law. How could antidiscrimination law possibly apply to what someone puts in his or her will? Even if the will in question had contained a provision that said, “I am disinheriting my daughter because she married a Jewish man,” isn’t that a private decision?
Maybe if I put it in terms of choices a parent makes in dealing with his or her children, my point will be more clear: if a parent disapproves of something his child did, and decides that he doesn’t want to give that child something as a result (I’m talking about an emancipated child, not a dependent child), does the government have the power to second-guess that decision and overrule it if the decision was made for a bad reason?
If your answer to that question is yes, where does the government’s power stop? What if the parent’s decision to not give something to the child was due to the child using alcohol or tobacco? Or what if it was because the child joined the American Nazi Party, or the Communist Party?
Maybe it's easier to say someone should be free to disinherit a child who joined the Nazi Party, than it is to say someone should be free to disinherit a child who married a Jew, but should the government be trying to police those kinds of decisions?
As an aside: if it’s ok to “discriminate” against a Nazi, why isn’t it ok to prevent the Nazis from holding public events?
If you start down this path, you are inevitably going to give the government the power to decide what motives are off limits in a person’s private decisions on how to dispose of his or her property. Isn’t that getting kinda close to making the government, the thought police?
It’s a concept that is too often overlooked: prosperity depends on new ideas that result in products and services that people want. This quote from a book review in The Federalist sums it up quite well:
[B]usinesses can only make offers to consumers…. They not only have to produce things that add value to society but also compete with other businesses for consumer dollars and for the best employees by offering competitive pay.
I’M NOT SURE HOW I WOULD USE CODING IN MY WORK AS A LAWYER, BUT I’M OPEN TO THE IDEA
I am interested in coding, and would be willing to learn how if I thought I could make use of it. Whether it’s really relevant to my current work, I’m not sure, but there’s at least one lawyer who thinks it could be.
CONSTITUTION DAY IS COMING UP
September 17 is Constitution Day. For lots of information about it, check out constitutionday.com.
The contents of this blog, this web site, and any writings by me that are linked here, are all my personal commentary. None of it is intended to be legal advice for your situation.