Vampires – do they need Wills?

Although there has been a folk tradition of vampires the modern charismatic & sophisticated vampire is based upon Lord Ruthven in The Vampyre by John Polidori published in 1819; Polidori was with Lord Byron, Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelly when he wrote the story at the same time Mary Shelley wrote the Modern Prometheus better known as Frankenstein.

Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula published in 1897 has provided the basis of the modern vampire legend. The popularity of the vampire, in books, films, and television shows has only increased over time with the vampire becoming a dominant figure in the horror genre.

Interestingly under the broad definition given in a previous post vampires could qualify as a type of zombie. However there is a great difference in the genesis of Vampires and Zombies.

As a reminder in Australia the legal definition of death, is defined as:

a) Irreversible cessation of all function of the brain of the person; or

b) Irreversible cessation of circulation of blood in the body of the person.

As with zombies, there is some question regarding how you become a vampire. In some traditions if an animal jumps over a corpse, the dead body transitions into a vampire, in others the transition occurs where evil spirits control a corpse (similar to Haitian Zombification). Clearly these vampires have died therefore the executor when applying for a grant of probate can meet their obligation of swearing an affidavit as to the death of the Will maker and attaching a copy of the death certificate.

However where transition is a multi step process; for instance a vampire bites their victim who then transitions after drinking a vampire’s blood, it is not certain that a person meets the definition of death. In True Blood vampires must spend some time underground as part of transitioning, but again it’s not certain if they are dead and buried or just buried. Further complicating this scenario is the fact that they can suffer “True Death” if dispatched for example by a stake through the heart. In Twilight transition involves vampires’ hearts stopping, but brain function continuing (this might explain the terrible acting).

Although a vampire can be dispatched with a stake through their heart, in some narratives vampires hearts have ceased to function, in others they are in stasis waiting to beat again, whilst in others they have normal heart function. Therefore a vampire in any of these states with a fully functioning brain may or may not be alive under the definition in the Act.

Paradoxically for the undead in the Twilight saga and Blade trilogy vampires father children. Importantly in the Twilight saga vampires are considered to be ‘frozen in time’ which is why they do not age and do not die; however sperm produced by male vampires is viable.

Count Dracula owned a large castle and vast hoards of gold; Edward Cullen was independently wealthy due to his birth parents businesses; similarly his adoptive father was wealthy after centuries of medical practice. Vampires would require different estate planning than the living, as only when they are dispatched would their estate need to be distributed to their heirs.

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