Tuesday, July 23, 2024

You can take it with you! The billionaires freezing themselves for another chance at life – and riches

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Name: Frozen assets.

Age: How old do you want to be?

Well, I’d quite like to live for ever, but chances are I’ll shuffle off some time in my 80s. Have you considered coming back, some time in the future?

What, like reincarnation? I’m worried it might be as a dung beetle … No, more scientific and colder. Freezing, in fact …

Ah, this is about cryonics, isn’t it? Yes, cryopreservation – people getting frozen for future revival, when they figure out how to bring you round again.

And will that be ever? Or never? Mark House, a lawyer working with the Arizona-based cryonics facility Alcor Life Extension Foundation, told Bloomberg: “The idea of cryopreservation has gone from crackpot to merely eccentric.”

And people have already been frozen? Approximately 500 worldwide, mostly in the US. Alcor has 1,400 members and about 230 people already frozen.

Very rich people, I’m guessing? It’s $220,000 (£170,000) for whole body cryopreservation at Alcor. Or you can opt for neurocryopreservation for just $80,000, which is when they freeze your brain, inside your severed head …

Ew. Anyway, even if I could afford it, anything left in my pension pot afterwards probably wouldn’t be enough even to buy a Mars bar in 2324. Mars might be where you’ll be! Anyway, people are beginning to think about that – the money.

Frozen assets? There you go! But yes, basically. People who are getting cryopreserved are beginning to think about making their wealth immortal as well.

How? For example, estate lawyers, such as House, are creating what they’re calling “revival trusts”.

What’s that? It’s a bit like a dynasty trust, a tool already used by the super-rich in the US to help avoid federal tax when a lot of wealth gets passed down the generations. Except now you’re passing it to … well, yourself, even though it might be hundreds of years in the future.

Trying to get my (thankfully as yet unsevered) head round that … It certainly throws up some interesting questions – more philosophical than personal finance.

Such as? Are you dead when you’re cryonically preserved? If you are revived, are you the same person?

What’s the answer to that last one, for example? House says no, in the eyes of the law. Partly because someone can’t be a beneficiary of their own trust. The revived person in the future, however, can be.

But what if I don’t want to be revived as someone else? That’s one of the many reasons it’s complicated.

Do say: “You know what, when my time’s up, it’s up. I’ll leave everything to the donkey sanctuary.”

Don’t say: “Where am I? Who am I? Why am I just a head?”

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