Could the Myriad Codifications of Aspects of the Law of Trusts Culminating with the Uniform Trust Code (2000) Be Doing More Harm than Good?

Charles E. Rounds, Jr.
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Though the trust is a judge-made creature of equity, the last eighty years have seen numerous rounds of uniform legislation codifying various aspects of the law of trusts, beginning with the Uniform Principal and Income Act of 1931 and culminating with the Uniform Trust Code (2000). For the most part these initiatives have been spearheaded by legal academics. The siren song has been that the laws governing the ancient principles-based institution of the trust now need to be simplified and made uniform, and we academics are the ones best equipped to make this happen. But there is a growing sense in the real world that all this legislative tinkering is perversely fostering less simplicity, less uniformity, less flexibility, and less adaptability, at least on this side of the Atlantic. Certainly it has been sowing across the legal landscape its fair share of traps for the unwary trust practitioner. We have been down this road before. Professors John Chipman Gray and Austin Wakeman Scott (the former your quintessential scholar-practitioner), for example, had little good to say about the codification in the 19th century of large swaths of New York’s trust law.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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