Patricia Annino
Patricia Annino
Understanding the basics behind organ, tissue donations
Why it is necessary to understand the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act first.

May 17, 2012
by Patricia M. Annino, J.D., LL.M.

Individuals are increasingly considering making anatomical gifts for the purposes of transplantation or medical research. The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (the terms of which, when enacted, vary from state to state) standardizes the rules concerning organ and tissue donation.

In most states a donor, or his or her health care agent, may make an anatomical gift in several ways, including:

  1. By a statement or symbol to be imprinted on the donor’s driver’s license or identification card;
  2. By will—an anatomical gift takes effect upon the donor’s death, whether or not the will is probated. Invalidation of the will after the donor’s death will not invalidate the gift;
  3. By verbal communication to two witnesses during a donor’s terminal illness or injury; and
  4. By a donor card or other record signed in the presence of two witnesses or by inclusion on a donor registry.

An anatomical gift can be changed or revoked. The gift can be made to the following persons or organizations:

  1. A hospital, accredited medical school, dental school, college or university, organ procurement organization, or other appropriate person for research and education.
  2. An individual recipient of the part, as designated by the person making the anatomical gift.
  3. An eye bank or tissue bank.

Laws regarding such donations vary from state to state and should be reviewed prior to making an anatomical gift. If clients wish to make an anatomical gift, they should make the gift in a will. Since, in many states, clients’ health care agents have the power to make an anatomical gift on their behalf during their lifetime, clients should consider updating the health care proxy either to prohibit the agent from exercising the power, or to outline limitations on the agent’s ability to exercise this power.

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Patricia M. Annino , J.D., LL.M., is a partner with the Estate Planning practice group at Prince Lobel Tye LLP. She is a Fellow of The American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

* The AICPA’s PFP Section provides information, tools, advocacy, and guidance to CPAs who specialize in providing tax, retirement, estate, risk management, and investment advice to individuals and their closely held entities. PFP Section members, including PFS credential holders, will benefit from additional resources on this topic in Forefield Advisor on the AICPA’s PFP website at aicpa.org/pfp. All members of the AICPA are eligible to join the PFP Section. CPAs who want to demonstrate their expertise in this subject matter can apply to become a PFS credential holder.