Vanderbilt Law Review

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In order to get a proper measure of modern Estate Planning I think it may be useful to consider, very briefly, some aspects of its history. The family trust was born into our jurisprudence in an environment which had been moulded in that solid and immovable pyramid called feudalism. In that social order there was nothing of imaginative elasticity. Lateral allegiances or entanglements were as little known as lateral movements. All lines of authority moved from the top; all discharges of duties were rendered vertically to the liege lord next above. As with human relationships so also with property. The turreted and fortified provincial seat of that day, like as not surrounded by a deep water moat, provided its own economy; save for its contribution of natural produce, and its quota of fines, recoveries and fighting power to the liege lord, it knew not the outside world. In those days the word "value" had no significance; the world of wide application was the legal term"use." The money changer had yet to make his place in society--so far backward, indeed, had men fallen from the ordered days of Rome that the limits of trade movements, of government authority and of human intercourse were actually and truly a matter of visible horizons.