"A sparkling polemic...Madoff convincingly argues [that] we are granting the dead ever more elaborate property rights, which are crowding out the rights of the living."—Christopher Caldwell, the Financial Times
(Christopher Caldwell Financial Times
"You don't have to be an attorney or a dead person to love this book. Along with clear, scrupulously researched coverage of perennial topics like trusts and disinheritance, Madoff covers death's terra incognita: posthumous conception, organ donation by executed convicts, the ever-shifting death criteria debate. Even cryonics gets its due. (Can the wife of a frozen 'not really dead' person remarry? Who has to pay his bills when he reanimates?) For every topic, Madoff digs up diverting examples. What other law book includes the tale of the socialite who asked to be buried in her baby blue Ferrari 'with the seat slanted comfortably'?"—Mary Roach, author of Stiff and Bonk
"Ray Madoff has pulled off an extraordinary feat. Immortality and the Law is a compelling read about a fascinating topic; a survey of death, laws, and taxes that somehow manages to be neither dreary nor gruesome. Deftly mixing historical anecdote, legal analysis, and a fine sense of humor, the author relates how Americans have historically treated the dead, and how our laws are subtly but powerfully changing to give those no longer among us an increasing range of powers. Read this book before you die!"—Debora L. Spar, President, Barnard College
(Debora L. Spar)
"This is a well-written and well-crafted book on a neglected subject—how we treat the wishes of the dead, and how the wishes of the dead impact our law and our society. In this succinct but careful treatment of the subject, Madoff describes how we can and cannot control what happens to our bodies, what happens to our property, and what happens to our reputations, when we are no longer here to make decisions and defend ourselves. It is a book full of insights and surprises, and a constant delight to read. It deserves a wide audience."—Lawrence Friedman, Marion Rice Kirkwood Professor of Law, Stanford Law School
“We normally don’t think that dead people have any legal rights. But in her carefully reasoned and exquisitely written book, Immortality and the Law, Ray D. Madoff, a professor at Boston College Law School, not only reminds us of our current legal system’s treatment of the dead but documents the extent to which the rights of the dead are expanding and rapidly encroaching on the rights of the living.
Whether it is on issues of reproductive procedures, artistic creations, copyright protections, reputational interests, trust provisions, property rights or charitable giving, our laws are increasingly giving greater privileges to the dead while not calculating the costs exacted on the living. Particular striking is the author’s analysis of charitable trusts, many of them foundations, which are founded largely on the twin pillars of donor intent and perpetuity. Both insure the “dead hand” of the past and limit the extent to which great wealth can be spent to solve today’s societal problems.
Is this shift in the law good for our society and for our democracy? Has it tilted too much against the interests of the living? Professor Madoff argues that it has. She makes a persuasive argument that a balance must be restored.”—Pablo Eisenberg, Senior Fellow, Georgetown Public Policy Institute
"Overall, this is an interesting discussion of a specialized legal area."—A. H. Cooley, CHOICE
(A. H. Cooley CHOICE