Some Pennsylvanians may have heard of cryonics — the freezing of a person after they die in the hopes that someday their body will be revived. Though it may sound like science fiction, there are around 400 people currently being preserved in a frozen state, and some 1,500 living individuals plan to be frozen when they die. But if someone leaves all their money to heirs after they die, what happens if they are frozen and then one day revived? Anyone who is even thinking about the possibility of being cryonically preserved might want to learn about revival trusts.
A revival trust, also called a future income trust, sets aside a person’s assets for the possible time in the future when they might be brought back from death after being frozen. Because the day when a cryonically preserved person can actually be revived may never come, however, some say all revival trusts should have expiration dates.
Many lawyers and other critics of revival trusts find them appalling. Even lawyers who support the idea admit that they can cause frustration for the family of a deceased person who has been put on ice. Actually being frozen at a cryonics center is expensive to begin with. There are two major centers in the United States. One costs $28,000; the other charges $200,000, which includes the cost of a trust.
Cryonics works by preserving cells in the body that are actually still alive after the body as a whole has ceased to function. But the ability to actually revive a frozen body into a healthy, living person again is probably a long way off, and might never actually exist. Cryopreservation is controversial for that reason. But the process, as well as revival trusts, are legal and available to the optimistic.
Even though the average person is probably never going to need a revival trust, there are many kinds of trusts that are suitable for anyone who wants to control what happens to their money and assets when they are gone. Estate planning is not just for the wealthy.