There are many things that a family needs to consider and in the weeks and months after a loved one’s death. A court battle over legal custody of her frozen head should not be one of those things, but that’s what a Colorado family faces after the death of their 71-year-old grandmother.
Mary Robbins had signed a contract with cryonics nonprofit Alcor for her head to be frozen after her death, and for the company to receive a $50,000 annuity to help care for her. (You may remember a similar legal battle over the remains of baseball great Ted Williams.)
According to the family, she changed her mind in her final days, canceling her contract with the cryonics company and avoiding preparations that hospice staff were not comfortable with.
Two days before she died, Robbins changed the beneficiary on her annuity policy so the money would go to her family, an act witnessed by family and non-family, Scranton said. The lawyer said that others heard Robbins say that she no longer wished for her head to be frozen.
Darlene Robbins said she contacted Alcor to let them know her mother had changed her mind and “they hung up on me.”
Alcor, Scranton said, rejected Robbins’ verbal cancellation of the contract, “saying oral revocations don’t count. That it has to be in writing.”
We hope that this situation is resolved amicably and quickly. Remember, for situations as mundane as a gym contract up to serious end-of-life matters, never assume that breaking a contract orally is enough. Make sure that your intentions are perfectly clear and in writing, and valid in the jurisdiction where you happen to be at the time.
Court Gives Custody of Grandmother’s Frozen Head to Cryonics Company [ABC News] (Thanks, LadySiren!)
Colorado Springs Court Upholds Desire of Alcor Member to be Cryopreserved [Alcor Press Release]