Vanderbilt Law Review

Article Title

A Planner's Primer

First Page



Anyone undertaking an assignment to write within a few pages under this comprehensive title must limit his coverage. This general article on a subject as intangible as estate planning omits entirely or gives short treatment to many considerations which may be of great importance to the conscientious planning of relatively complicated estate situations. Emphasis will be placed on the tax aspects of estate planning, particularly federal taxes, but consideration will be given to other aspects which may be of equal or even greater importance. This deliberate emphasis is certainly not intended to add to the misleading impression, too frequently held, that the purpose of estate planning is merely to devise schemes to save taxes.

It should be borne in mind that the estate being planned is the family economic fortune in its present form as well as the property which will pass at the owner's death. They may be quite dissimilar. It is the living estate owner who is to be helped with his planning through action to be taken by him currently. About the only planning done after death is the upsetting of prior planning or lack of planning. The owner of an estate should not sacrifice his own security and that of his family as it is now constituted by an excessive regard for members who may survive him. He may turn out to be the one surviving them. Many plans have produced adverse consequences because death refused to follow in the planned sequence. This does not mean that estate planning should disregard all possibilities for betterment merely because the unexpected might happen. Reasonable probabilities should be acted upon, but all possible consequences must be carefully considered.