Homunculus: Chapter 12: Feedback

Asset Woes, Part 2
posted by Jacob F. Feldspar-Leigh today at 3:47 pm (updated 7:13 pm)
tags: assets legal lawyers wife currentevents lessonslearned

If recent experiences have taught me one thing, it’s this: never let your wife get a copy of your death certificate.

I mentioned in a post earlier this week about how I got locked out of most of my accounts. Since then, I’ve been exploring my options for how to get them back, and at the moment it doesn’t look good.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far. Most financial institutions have procedures for handling the death of a client. This typically means turning over control of the account and associated assets to the closest surviving relative or next of kin, just like with any physical asset the person might have owned. Naturally, the institution wants to see proof that the account owner is dead.

I think you can see where I’m going with this.

Not long after my death certificate got posted for the world to see (and still no luck trying to get that taken down, even though that kind of thing must violate half a dozen things in HIPAA), my wife got her hands on it and took control of everything of mine she could find. At least, that’s what seems to have happened. None of the institutions I’ve contacted have been willing to talk to me about the account, giving me some nonsense about client confidentiality. They seem to think that means keeping information confidential from their clients. But either way, what information I have been able to get from them all points to my wife.

Some of you might think that this would be a simple matter of contacting my wife directly and getting this all sorted out. Well, it’s not that simple. As you might have been able to guess from my barely having mentioned her here until now, we haven’t exactly been on the best of terms for the past year or so. I’d really rather not dwell on the details of that, so don’t bother asking in the comments. Suffice it to say that she and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on the whole Simulacrum project, and apparently we still don’t, since she hasn’t been returning any of my calls. I haven’t entirely given up hope on that front yet, but I’m not holding my breath either. My guess is that my only recourse at this point is having the court invalidating the account transfers on account of my actually being, you know, alive.

Which looks like it’s going to be easier said than done. I’m still waiting to hear back from the Medimetics legal people, but for the time being they’re probably my best bet. Just to be on the safe side, though, I’ve been contacting some other lawyers too. Needless to say, though, none of them have shown any interest in taking my case. There seem to be two reasons for that.

First, not surprisingly, there’s not much in the way of case law or precedent for people in my situation, which probably means it would be a lot of work coming up with a solid legal basis for my claims. Hardly a case they can hand off to their interns or paralegals or whomever. (I’m not entirely sure how law offices work, but that’s their job, right?)

[Edit: To be clear, it's not a question of whether someone who can prove he's alive can reverse things done on account of his assumed death -- I'm pretty sure that's easy! No, the big issue is whether I have standing to file a legal claim in the first place. There's very little precedent on the ability of entities who aren't flesh-and-blood humans to file suit. And what little precedent there is limited to the occasional nut trying to sue God over something or other, and those tend to get thrown out on jurisdiction issues. (Seriously, Google it.)]

Second, there’s the question of my ability to pay. Remember, the whole problem is that I don’t have access to any of my assets, and if I lose in court that would obviously stay that way. None of the lawyers I’ve tried contacting thus far have been willing to take the case on contingency, since it’s a lot of work with no idea of the chances of success and thus no idea whether they’d actually see a dime for it.

In hindsight, I probably should’ve hired a lawyer or two on retainer to handle cases like this. Though really, I should’ve gotten officially divorced in the first place and avoided the whole mess in the first place.

Consider that another lesson learned, those of you hoping to follow in my footsteps some day. It’s all fun and games until you try to get the lawyers involved.

47 comments

From: Jasper Reynolds <jreynolds>
To: Jacob F. Feldspar-Leigh <jfeldspar>
Subject: Re: Request for assistance

Mr. Feldspar-Leigh,

Thank you for the additional information you provided regarding justification for MLT contravening our standard policy, mandated by corporate, against providing legal representations to individuals affiliated with the company. You make a compelling argument for the assertion that your personal legal interests are aligned with the company in this issue; namely, that legal support of your claim to the control of financial assets registered in the name of Jacob F. Feldspar-Leigh coincides with the corporate message that Project Simulacrum instantiates not a computer program but a human being.

However, I regret to inform you that your request has been denied. After much discussion between myself and several other members of the MLT, we have come to the conclusion that MLT can best serve the company’s legal interests by focusing our attention on other cases at this time.

Also, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that any content posted to the official company website, including weblogs (“blogs”), is required to be reviewed by both the MLT and the PR department before publication, to ensure that said content coincides with corporate policy and does not introduce the appearance of any legal obligations on the part of the company. In particular, your recent post titled “Asset Woes, Part 2″, originally posted at [URL removed by spam filter], falls under the section of the website content policy prohibiting “statements regarding planned, pending, or current legal actions” (section 17, paragraph 5, subparagraph 4(b)). The offending post has been removed pending review, a member of the MLT will be in contact with your shortly to discuss changes will be required to reinstate it. To avoid future complications, please be sure to submit future posts and comments for review no less than 48 hours prior to publication.

Disclaimer: the following statement does not necessarily reflect the opinions or viewpoints of Medimetics or the Medimetics Legal Team.

I wish you luck in your efforts to regain control of the assets you believe belong to you.

End disclaimed text.

Jasper Reynolds Medimetics
Legal Team
~ Unless stated otherwise, no portion of this message constitutes legal advice. ~

This message may contain confidential or proprietary information and is intended solely for use by the recipient. Forwarding, publishing, or otherwise divulging its contents to other persons without the express written permission of the originator is strictly prohibited. Violations may be subject to legal action.

From: Oliver Trenton <oliver1@…>
To: Jacob F. Feldspar-Leigh <jfeldspar>
Subject: Offer of legal support

Mr. Feldspar-Leigh,

Allow me to introduce myself. I am Oliver Trenton, founder and president of Over Zero. Our organization’s mission is to prepare human society for the coming technological singularity by promoting science, technology, laws, and cultural attitudes to support the exponential advancement of society.

Needless to say, your experiences as the first recorded instance of human-machine fusion has been of keen interest to us. Thus, you may be able to understand that your recent report of legal trouble (your post “Asset Woes, Part 2″ on your blog, which seems to be unavailable at the moment, by the way) has particularly caught our attention.

On behalf of Over Zero, I would like to offer you whatever support we can in representing you in court. We believe the difficulty you have experienced in recovering access to your assets is yet another instance of discrimination against Digital Americans such as yourself. History has shown that once bigotry becomes accepted and entrenched in society, extraordinary effort is required to undo the damage and restore equality.

While I myself am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice (sorry, our staff lawyer made me say that), I believe the biggest challenge you will face in court is rightful recognition of your status not only as a person in the eyes of the law, but also of an American citizen, with all the rights and privileges thereof. There will be a strong push by traditionalists to label you as “just a c******* p******”, and if recognized legally would relegate you to the status of Medimetics property. I do not think I need to elaborate on the consequences that such a ruling could have on a minority group such as Digital Americans.

However, I believe that your case could be precisely the test case Over Zero has been looking for the establish the rights of Digital Americans. Just as your old, organic brain and body were recognized as having legal status of personhood, so should a complete and fully functional digital representation of that same system. We do not anticipate the need to establish where the line, if any, should be drawn between conventional software and Digital Americans, but in my opinion it is clear which side of the line you fall on.

While our legal resources at Over Zero are admittedly modest, I promise you that, should you accept our offer to represent you, your case shall have the full attention of our legal staff member. And although we would appreciate any donation you may be willing to provide to your organization, given the twin factors of the importance of your case to our mission and your present difficulty in providing payment, Over Zero shall be willing to represent you on a strictly pro bono basis.

From all of us at Over Zero, I would like to close by saying it would be an honor to have the opportunity to work with you, and we eagerly await your reply.

Sincerely,
Oliver Trenton
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Chapter word count: 1,733 (+66)
Total word count: 20,964 / 50,000 (41.928%)