The laws are complicated, and not stacked in your favor, but if done carefully it’s possible to leave a huge death benefit payoff from your life insurance policy to your cryonically-preserved self. And since life insurance can also be used to finance your cryopreservation, you need not wait until you are rich to sign up. Most in the middle class, if they seriously want it, can afford it now. So by taking the right steps, you can look forward to waking up one bright future morning from cryopreservation the proud owner of a bank account brimming with money.
Don’t get me wrong. Leaving money to your future self is complicated. The courts have decided that cryopreserved people are not suspended or preserved. Rather, they are irrevocably dead, and by being dead have no legal right of ownership or inheritance. These laws may change if the first cryopreserved people are resuscitated and sue for some new kind of civil rights, but that could be decades away. In the meantime, those who are not yet being preserved have spent years pondering and discussing possible methods of self-inheritance. They call it Cryonics Estate Planning and there are now at least three ways to achieve the goal.
One method requires individuals to join a foundation based in Europe that has no website and generally avoids publicity (like the piece you are reading now). It was created by wealthy cryonicists for the purpose of wealth preservation, as well as to fund both their cryopreservation and their eventual resuscitation. Meanwhile, Alcor — a more inclusive organization and one of the two main cryopreservation facilities in the United States — is in the process of developing a trust. And finally — for the use of his clients — Rudi Hoffman has created a trust.
Having written cryopreservation insurance policies for nearly a thousand people, Rudi Hoffman is well established as the world’s leading cryonics insurance provider. As a certified financial planner, he also has a longstanding record of helping people leave money to their future selves, and thus avoid the worry of being revived from cryopreservation to discover that they are penniless in wonderland.
A cryonics activist, volunteer, speaker and writer, Rudi teaches cryonic preservation to the uninitiated. “I signed up for cryopreservation back in 1994,” he said, “But being a transhumanist, it’s my hope that medical science will advance fast enough and soon enough that I never need to be cryopreserved. I look at cryonics itself as a form of insurance. If I need it, I’ve got it. It’s always good to have a backup plan.”
“The Hoffman Prototype Cryonics Trust,” he explained, “is a method of sidestepping the problem that cryopreserved people have no legal rights by using a dynasty trust.” Dynasty trusts have been used for a century or more in estate planning to make sure future inheritances are awarded only to specific people under specific circumstances — such as paying the tuition of a grandchild when they go to college but only if they maintain a B average. This separates the money from personal ownership, and yet allows the money to be awarded to the cryopreserved person after they are resuscitated.
“I just emailed a student graduating from high school who is signing up for cryonics,” Rudi said. “This points up the egalitarian nature of cryonics; and how the leverage of life insurance can mean a kid with minimal resources can fund both his suspension and a cryonics trust for under a dollar a day.” (Age, health, lifestyle choices like smoking, as well as the size of the desired death benefit payoff cause rates to vary widely from one person to the next.)
Do You Need Money in the Future?
Money, some insist, will have no meaning in a future dominated by advanced molecular manufacturing or other engines of mega-abundance. In this case waking from cryonics rich or poor would be exactly the same.
The courts have decided that cryopreserved people are not suspended or preserved… they are irrevocably dead and have no legal right of ownership or inheritance.
Ben Goertzel, Director of Research at SIAI, and CEO of Novamente LLC and Biomind LLC — both of which produce AI products for corporate clients — described it this way: “Most probably there will always be some issues regarding resource limitations, even in post-Singularity societies. But the reality we take for granted now, in which an individual needs to expend significant effort to acquire the resources to fulfill his basic physical, emotional or intellectual needs, is unlikely to survive after the invention of molecular nanotech, virtual reality and other advanced methods.”
He added, “What seems most likely, if the future takes a positive path in which advanced tech is used in a generally benevolent way, is that a huge and rich variety of resources will be available for all sentient beings … and negotiation for those resources that are still scarce will occur according to methods much more sophisticated than our current ‘money economy’; methods which we have no current means to predict or understand.”
While Rudi Hoffman is aware that advanced nanotechnologies may well produce a post-scarcity era of unlimited bounty for all — and is eager for such a day — he also knows that the cryonically preserved have no guarantee of waking into such a world. “Having a personal abundance of money,” he said, “will preserve your options. And creating a pleasant and fulfilling future for yourself and those you treasure is all about choosing the best options.”
Stephen Euin Cobb is an author, columnist, futurist, game designer, artist, transhumanist and host of the award-winning podcast about the future called: The Future and You.