Life/death/law Podcast



Welcome to Life/Death/Law. A podcast about estate planning, an issue that affects all of us, because were human. Lawyers tend to make estate planning both boring and hard, but I think it doesn't need to be either one. After 20 years writing about it and writing estate plans for hundreds of families, I actually think it's a fascinating and rich topic. Death is like sex. We all do it, but we're often afraid to talk about it. Im Liza Hanks and I am here to answer your questions with no judgement. Are you ready? Let's get started.


  • DIY Estate Planning for the Pandemic

    DIY Estate Planning for the Pandemic

    03/04/2020 Duration: 09min

      If you are stuck at home and without basic legal documents, listen up. In the spirit of offering what I can to help people gain some piece of mind amidst the panic and uncertainty of the pandemic, here are some resources that you can use to get the basics in order, for now. Although none of the documents I’m discussing take the place of a comprehensive estate plan, they are all good things to have. And most of them are documents that you can put in place with minimal or no expense as long as you have access to the internet, a printer, and some cooperative neighbors willing to stay six feet away while you sign them. Once you do sign them, place them in a safe place, let your loved ones know where to find them in case you do get sick, and then, please, go out and take a walk. Advance Health Care Directives An Advance Health Care Directive, also known as a Health Care Proxy or Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care  and Living Will in some states, appoints people to act as your Agents to make medical decis

  • Modern Loss: Rebecca Soffer

    Modern Loss: Rebecca Soffer

    26/01/2020 Duration: 30min

      In this episode of Life/Death/Law, Rebecca Soffer, the CEO and co-founder of Modern Loss, shares the insights she's gained from starting a ground-breaking website, Modern Loss, publishing a wonderful new book, Modern Loss: Candid conversations about grief. Beginner's Welcome, and hosting a national series of live storytelling events that discuss grief and loss in honest, vivid, and, above all, human,terms. Rebecca, and her co-founder and co-author, Gabrielle Birkner, both suffered loss at a young age, felt the isolation that comes with that, and decided to create a community to destigmatize grief and loss. If you, or someone you love, is dealing with profound loss, Modern Loss offers community, great advice, and a place to share, in their own words, "the unspeakably taboo, unbelievably hilarious, and unexpectedly beautiful terrain of navigating your life after a death." Here's what Modern Loss isn't: too clinical, overtly religious, patronizing, or cheesy. Instead, it offers well-written personal essays, t

  • BJ Miller: A Beginners Guide to the End

    BJ Miller: A Beginner's Guide to the End

    07/06/2019 Duration: 38min

      In this episode of Life/Death/Law, Dr. BJ Miller shares insights from his new book, A Beginner's Guide to the End. Written with co-author Shoshana Berger, the book is practical, detailed, surprisingly funny and always completely honest. From what to bring with you to the hospital (your favorite quilt, your phone charger, pictures from home), to how to tell your boss that you are really sick, to how to cultivate sex and intimacy in the face of serious illness, this is a guide for both the sick and their caretakers. Dr. Miller is a hospice and palliative care physician, practicing at UC San Francisco, and the former Executive Director of the Zen Hospice Project, so he knows, first hand, what he's talking about. He wrote the book, he told me, because he saw, over and over again, how people were suffering unnecessarily for lack of basic information. But A Beginner's Guide isn't just a set of nuts and bolts instructions, it is also a wise and thoughtful guide to what's most important to people facing critical

  • Burnout - Emily and Amelia Nagoski

    Burnout - Emily and Amelia Nagoski

    09/04/2019 Duration: 36min

    Emily Nagoski, PhD,  and her sister Amelia Nagoski, DMA, authors of the new book, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, know all about accomplishment -- Emily is the author of the New York Times best-seller, Come as You Are: the surprising new science that will transfrom your sex life, and Amelia is a professor of music and a classical conductor. They also know, first hand, about the feelings of emotional overwhelm and exhaustion that can come with that accomplishment, so they wrote a book about how to overcome it. Death and dying are incredibly stressful moments in a family's life and many women are the caretakers for the old and sick. I asked Emily and Amelia to be on Life/Death/Law because feelings of overwhelm, trying to control the uncontrollable, and feeling isolated and sad are so common for the people that I work with--I think Burnout is a must read for just about everyone. In this episode of Life/Death/Law, join us for a long-ranging discussion of why women experience burnout differentl

  • The F Word (Faith)-Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel

    The "F" Word (Faith)-Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel

    18/02/2019 Duration: 28min

      In this episode of Life/Death/Law Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel, author of The Power of an Open Question and The Logic of Faith, joins me for a wonderful conversation on finding grace in a world we can't control. A longtime buddhist practitioner and worldwide teacher, she brings humor, insight and compassion to the issues we all face as human beings: how to find faith and live with grace in a life that is short and full of challenge?  “As long as you are breathing and your heart is pumping in your chest, you will never escape the need ‘to faith,’ and why would you want to? The human predicament literally pushes at you day after day, calling to your courage and intelligence, imploring you to pay attention to life as it is, urging you to let go into humbleness. How long can you ignore it?” If you've ever found yourself overwhelmed or powerless in the face of old age, sickness and death (and who hasn't?) listen to what Elizabeth has to say about finding grace in the most ordinary truths of our human lives. To lea

  • Dara Kosberg: Reimagine End of Life and The Dinner Party

    Dara Kosberg: Reimagine End of Life and The Dinner Party

    19/10/2018 Duration: 24min

    Dara Kosberg, is the Director of Programming for the Reimagine End of Life Conference, beginning October 27, in New York. It will be a city-wide event that will include over 300 events, 60 Interactive Rituals, 32 performances, and 15 comedy shows. Dara is also a member of the Founding Team for The Dinner Party, a community of mostly 20-30 somethings who have each experienced profound loss and connect around potluck dinners to talk about it. Dara's vision is vast. She's on a mission to break down taboos in society around death and loss. She believes that the experience of loss and the exploration of death can be catalysts to build more meaningful connections and a more meaningful life. Join us in this episode of Life/Death/Law as Dara discusses her creative and inspiring work in helping people to connect and talk about death, dying, and, most importantly, living.

  • Michael Hebb: Death Over Dinner

    Michael Hebb: Death Over Dinner

    28/09/2018 Duration: 31min

    In this episode of Life/Death/Law, Michael Hebb, the founder of Death Over Dinner, discusses his new book, Let's Talk About Death (Over Dinner): An Invitation and Guide to Life's Most Important Conversation. Since he founded Death Over Dinner in 2013, more than 100,000 dinners have been served where people have sat down together over a home-cooked meal to talk, really talk, about what they do and don't want at the end of their lives, and what they can do, now, to make both their lives and their deaths more meaningful for themselves and their loved ones. Michael is 100% right when he says that how we end our lives is the most important and costly conversation America is not having. If you have ever wondered how to get that conversation started, either for yourself or for someone you love, please listen.

  • Katy Butler: The Art of Dying Well

    Katy Butler: The Art of Dying Well

    08/09/2018 Duration: 36min

    In this episode, award-winning journalist and author Katy Butler discusses her newest book, The Art of Dying Well, as well as her memoir, Knocking on Heaven's Door, two books about meeting aging and death with grace, intelligence, and resilience. If you have ever struggled with how best to support a loved one as they confront old age, sickness, and death, or wondered what you can do, now, to make sure that your old age is as independent and healthy as possible and that your death be a natural one surrounded by love, listen to Katy Butler. 

  • Extreme Measures: Dr. Jessica Zitter

    Extreme Measures: Dr. Jessica Zitter

    17/08/2018 Duration: 32min

    In this episode of Life/Death/Law, Dr. Jessica Zitter, author of Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life, talks openly and honestly about how to communicate with your doctors about what you or a loved one wants, and doesn't want, for end of life care; how to pick the right person to act as your health care agent and make medical decisions for you; and what palliative care can offer those facing chronic illness. But more than that, she is a compassionate and articulate voice for changing the way that people die in this country and the role that the medical profession can play in improving end of life care. I loved talking to her and I think you'll love listening. She is Harvard and UCSF-trained to practice the unusual combination of Critical and Palliative Care medicine.  She works as an Attending Physician at a public hospital in Oakland, California. She is a regular contributor to The New York Times and her articles have appeared in The Atlantic, Time Magazine, Journal of the American Med

  • End Well - Planning for a Better End of Life

    End Well - Planning for a Better End of Life

    06/07/2018 Duration: 29min

    In this episode of Life/Death/Law, join me for a conversation with Dr. Shoshana Ungerleider, a physician, speaker, writer, activist, and the force behind two amazing movies about end of life: Extremis and End Game, both available on Netflix (so watch them!). Dr. Ungerleider also (when not producing movies and making social change) works as an internist practicing hospital medicine at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. She received her medical degree from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, OR and completed residency at California Pacific Medical Center where she is now on the teaching faculty and serves on the Executive Board of the Foundation Board of Trustees. Extremis, which is about end of life decision making in the ICU at Oakland's Highland Hospital, won best Documentary Short at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2017, and was nominated for an Academy Award and two Emmies. End Game recently premiered at Sundance, and is about palliative care and end of life planning in the fa

  • Access to Digital Assets After Death -- The Inside Scoop from Google

    Access to Digital Assets After Death -- The Inside Scoop from Google

    03/06/2018 Duration: 31min

    In this episode of Life/Death/Law, Einat Sandman Clarke, Senior Counsel at Google LLC provides an inside look at how Google handles requests for digital assets (like emails, photos, and videos) after someone has died and discusses the broader legal landscape that governs all service providers facing requests to release digital communications belonging to their users. Learn how to use Google's Inactive Account Manger to control access to your digital assets (like email,  videos, images, and documents) and why service providers (like Google, Apple, facebook, and Yahoo) can't give anyone access to your stored electronic communications without your consent, or a court order. If you've ever worried about what will happen to your digital life after you die (and who hasn't), please listen. To read more about Digital Estate Planning, download my free ebook. Please follow me at: Twitter: Facebook: LinkedIn:

  • Talking About the Hard Stuff

    Talking About the Hard Stuff

    05/04/2018 Duration: 37min

    In this episode I'm taking to Dr. Muffie Weibe Waterman, author of Wired to Listen, a book about how what we say to kids, and don't, impacts the way that kids see the world and act in it. In her book, Dr. Waterman writes about how, and when, to talk to kids about the hard stuff; death, divorce, and sex--topics that we all struggle with addressing honestly and effectively with our kids.  I asked her to be on the show because many of the people that I work with, and many of the people listening to this show, struggle with talking appropriately, and effectively, to kids (of all ages) about death and dying. These conversations can be around the death of a beloved grandparent, or about the process of estate planning, or, even, between adult children and elderly parents, about the reality of end of life planning. If you have ever struggled with how to talk honestly and openly about death and dying with your children or your parents, and honestly, who hasn’t?, I think you’ll enjoy listening to today’s show. Please

  • The Practice of Generosity

    The Practice of Generosity

    15/03/2018 Duration: 17min

    What is estate planning, really? I know that most lawyers focus on reducing taxes, or the creation of documents, but when you get down to it, what you’re really doing when you make an estate plan is giving everything away, right? So, to me, understanding the practice of generosity and what gets in the way of being generous are central to effective estate planning, and who better to explore that territory than my guest for episode 3 of Life/Death/Law: Myoshin Kelley, an eloquent teacher on the key Buddhist teachings on the wisdom of opening the heart. Myoshin is a Senior Instructor with the Tergar Community, which supports the worldwide vision of Tibetan master meditation teacher and author Mingyur Rinpoche,, and it is an honor to have her on the podcast. If you’ve ever been curious about the practice of generosity or the value of it, or found yourself wanting to be generous but somehow holding yourself back, and wondered what was getting in your way, please listen.

  • Dealing with Dementia

    Dealing with Dementia

    15/03/2018 Duration: 30min

    In this episode, I’m taking a look at a difficult moment — you visit your parents and realize that your parents just seem…. a little bit different, just not the same as they used to be–more forgetful, more agitated, or suddenly involved with people that you don’t know or trust. Join me for a candid discussion with Dr. Elizabeth Landsverk, a board-certified physician in Internal medicine, Geriatric medicine, and Palliative care medicine. She’s also the founder of ElderConsult Geriatric Medicine, a practice that offers house-call based medicine to seniors and their families. Elizabeth offers practical help for those dealing with dementia: how to know if it’s time to take a loved one to be evaluated; what kind of cognitive and behavioral symptoms to worry about (or not to worry about); how to find the right doctor; avoid the wrong medications and offer a loved one with dementia the best possible quality of life. Join us!

  • Prenups


    13/03/2018 Duration: 32min

    In this first episode Emily Bouchard, a family dynamics and money coach and the managing partner at Wealth Legacy Group, talks to me about money and the difficulties that families often have in engaging in honest conversations about it. Emily offers  fascinating insights into why money can be such a hard thing to talk about, and tips for helping to get these conversations started. I asked her to be on my show because, so often, a long, uncomfortable silence falls across the room when my clients begin to sort out who owns what in a marriage, or how parents want their children to treat an inheritance.  As Emily points out, avoiding open and honest communications about money (like avoiding the same kinds of conversations about death and illness) means a missed opportunity for learning about ourselves, our families, and our most closely held values and hopes. I hope you enjoy it. To read more: Emily is the co-author, with Emily Chase Smith, of Beginner’s Guide to Purposeful Prenups and the author of Estate Planni