Vanderbilt Law Review

Article Title

Book Review

First Page



For the decade 1960-1970, any available prize for the most stimulating product of interest to estate planners by an individual writer certainly should go to Dean Thomas L. Shaffer' for "Death, Property, and Lawyers." This is an imaginative and stimulating book. A practicing lawyer who gives close attention to Dean Shaffer's work should be aided in evaluating his relationships with his estate planning clients. Even if this lawyer cannot be brought to a detailed evaluation, he at least will be brought to the threshold of introspection. Dean Shaffer does not attempt to unravel the whole "psychological story" in estate planning; instead he concentrates upon the themes of death attitudes and the related transference problems. He has not provided all the answers, but his work is reminiscent of the archaeologist who clears the brush around a Mayan temple before the temple can be explored. Dean Shaffer has cleared a path, pointed the way, and demonstrated the effectiveness of interdisciplinary psychological techniques in exploring the human elements of estate planning. This includes the undefined and yet to be analyzed psychological problems of the various formal decision-makers associated with the estate planning process, such as legislators and judges.