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PREMISE:

I'm writing a novel about a man who creates a legal entity intended to last 1000 years, and I'm not sure how to classify it. For lack of a better word (and total ignorance on my part), I call it a Trust. This trust would manage the estates of clients of a cryonics corporation, which would freeze their bodies and resuscitate them in 1000 years, then return their estates along with a millenia of compound interest!

QUESTIONS:

  1. What would be an appropriate legal classification?
  2. How could this entity be structured so it could manage multiple estates?
  3. Could this entity choose to keep, say, 30% for internal use e.g. resuscitation research?
  4. How could this entity be made "recession-bulletproof," such that it could survive collapse of civilization?
  5. Could it be given autonomy under the direction of a single person, or even sovereignty along the lines of a Mars colony?
  6. Could it be immune from legal jeopardy if it chose to accept clients who volunteer to be frozen before they die?
  7. What might happen to the estates if the economy is radically altered, e.g. a scarcity-free system where money is obsolete?

Obviously this is highly speculative. I'm mostly concerned with the early formation of the Trust (the first 3 or 4 points above).

  • A 1000 year trust would be very tempting for a dishonest administrator to plunder (what is the beneficiary going to do if the fund is gone when he awakes? Sue someone who has been dead for several hundreds years?) And as it will require lots of administrators, the probability of some of them being dishonest is rather high... That is one of the many reasons that I would not count on the trust standing for 1000 years. – SJuan76 Oct 28 '18 at 17:49
  • You might get better answers at Worldbuilding.SE as we don't really do wild speculation in environments where regime changes or collapses disrupt the rule of law and many are basically economic and not legal questions. Few entities other than the Roman Catholic Church have persisted this long. – ohwilleke Oct 30 '18 at 2:18
  • As speculation goes, this is perhaps more our side of the line than for Worldbuilding. There are technical points raised in both answers and in comments that I don't believe would be made apparent on a site that, by intention and for good reason, treats the rules of our reality as fungible if not entirely optional, and which have bearing on what any correct answer w.r.t. reality might be. – Nij Oct 30 '18 at 4:55
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  1. What would be an appropriate legal classification?

A trust.

  1. How could this entity be structured so it could manage multiple estates?

As a trust.

  1. Could this entity choose to keep, say, 30% for internal use e.g. resuscitation research?

If that’s what it says in the trust deed, yes.

  1. How could this entity be made "recession-bulletproof," such that it could survive collapse of civilization?

It can’t.

  1. Could it be given autonomy under the direction of a single person, or even sovereignty along the lines of a Mars colony?

A trust is managed by its trustee(s) for the benefit of the beneficiaries. A trustee can be an individual or a corporation and there can be one or more of them. It couldn’t be given sovereignty - only nation states are sovereign.

  1. Could it be immune from legal jeopardy if it chose to accept clients who volunteer to be frozen before they die?

No.

  1. What might happen to the estates if the economy is radically altered, e.g. a scarcity-free system where money is obsolete?

Beats me - you’re the science fiction writer, you make it up.

  • I think the rule against perpetuities would sink a true trust. See my answer below. – David Siegel Oct 30 '18 at 0:16
  • @DavidSiegel 1,000 years is not perpetual – Dale M Oct 30 '18 at 2:26
  • @DaleM, the name's a bit misleading. A trust doesn't have to be truly perpetual to fall afoul of the rule. – Mark Oct 30 '18 at 2:38
  • @Mark if a trust has a calculable vesting date it is not perpetual even if that date is a long time in the future. What matters is if it is reasonable for the purposes of the trust. – Dale M Oct 30 '18 at 2:41
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    @DaleM: Under the common law, and in many US states, the rule is that all rights must vest within 21 years after the death of some person (or one of a defined and limited group of people) alive when the trust is created. this is unlikely to allow for a 150 year trust, let alone 1,000 years. See the links in my answer for more. – David Siegel Oct 30 '18 at 3:04
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If structered as a trust, this might well fall foul of The Rule against Perpetuities, depending on the jurisdiction. See this law review article whre it is said:

Those familiar with the rules of law concerning the duration of trust estates, have learned that private trusts may not be created for unlimited lengths of time. The rule of law controlling the duration of private trusts, is the rule known as "The Rule against Perpetuities." The Law permits the establishment of prvate trusts for only reasonable lengths of time, so as not permanently to withdraw from commerce the realty and personalty bequeathed in trust. The rule does not apply to charitable or benevolent trusts, as such trusts may continue indefinitely, or, in contemplation of law, perpetually.

See also this Wikipedia article.

It would probably be better to structure such an organization as a corporation, much as The Red Cross is a corporation, or most museums or universities are. That would also simplify handling things for many frozen people.

  1. What would be an appropriate legal classification?

Corporation.

  1. How could this entity be structured so it could manage multiple estates?

By simply having a large class of clients, no one of whom runs the corp, any more than any one student runs a university.

  1. Could this entity choose to keep, say, 30% for internal use e.g. resuscitation research?

Yes, if that was permitted by whatever agreement those preserved had made with the organization, or whatever current law allowed.

  1. How could this entity be made "recession-bulletproof," such that it could survive collapse of civilization?

I don't see how it could be. Having it hold solid and durable assets would help, against a limited fall, but nothing could insulate agaisnt a totla fall of civilization.

  1. Could it be given autonomy under the direction of a single person, or even sovereignty along the lines of a Mars colony?

The organizational structure could be whatever the law permits when it is created. A board is usual, but not required. Currently the UN will not recognize as sovereign anything but a nation that holds a geographic territory, but that could possibly change in the future.

  1. Could it be immune from legal jeopardy if it chose to accept clients who volunteer to be frozen before they die?

That would depend on thee law in such matters, whoch would probably be changed if such freezing became common. Also, if the corporation did not know of this in advance, it probably would not be liable.

  1. What might happen to the estates if the economy is radically altered, e.g. a scarcity-free system where money is obsolete?

Since its purpose is to preserve property, it is hard to see in what form if any it eould survive such a change.

This sort of thing has been considered in science fiction a few times before, and it is worth reading some of the more notable examples. Why Call Them Back from Heaven by Clifford Simak, Cryoburn by Lois M. Bujold, and The Door into Summer by Robert A. Heinlein all come to mind. The first two deal with the effects on the over all economic and social system to a greater degree.

  • The rule against perpetuities would be the main barrier to such a trust. Colorado and Utah expressly authorize 1000 year trusts for certain kinds of property. actec.org/assets/1/6/Zaritsky_RAP_Survey.pdf Also, even the common law rule against perpetuities wouldn't be violated if someone in cryo is considered to be "alive" and hence a life in being at the time of the creation of the trust. – ohwilleke Oct 30 '18 at 3:33
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    I hadn't considered the possibility of the frozen person being the "life in being", nor did i know about those thousand-year trusts. I still think a corporate structure would be more flexible, particualrly if there were to be a continuing stream of people to be frozen. In any case this is fiction, the author can say that the law is whatever suits the story that the authro wants to tell. – David Siegel Oct 30 '18 at 16:40

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