Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Not many years ago a large New York bank circulated privately booklet with the provocative title "The Passing of the Simple Will." The choice of the title and the text itself underlined the complexities which surround the owner of property and his advisers when they jointly attempt to plan the disposition of a modern estate for modem needs. The now almost legendary owner of Blackacre could, indeed, write a simple will, quite effective and satisfactory as a plan for the disposition 'and use of the family property. One need scarcely recite the changes which have taken place in more recent times: the special characteristics of the relatively newer types of property interests, such as insurance, and the specific legal conditions and prohibitions which encircle them have received expert attention elsewhere in this symposium. The estate planner, be he owner or professional consultant, has become a tightrope walker precariously balanced between whatis possible and what is desirable. That which is desirable from the family standpoint, and may also be legally proper, all too often runs afoul of federal or state tax law, or both.

This paper has limited objectives. They are (1) to examine a typical family situation in need of estate planning, proposing one out of many possible practical solutions, and (2) to assemble and discuss with reference to the proposed plan a modest selection of Tennessee statutes and cases illustrating some of the considerations peculiar to Tennessee which the estate planner in this state must take into account if his plan is to be workable. Thus these pages do not purport to be a complete treatise one state planning and death taxes in Tennessee, certainly not a digest of the Tennessee law of wills and trusts, and least of all a course of instruction for Tennessee draftsmen of wills and trust agreements. All these matters are considered, of course, but, so far as possible, in the way and in the sense that they may be expected to appear as practical considerations affecting wills and trusts in day to day experience, whether in the administration, planning or drafting phases. To save time, familiarity with federal income, estate and gift taxes is assumed.