Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



This Article surveys areas of federalization of wealth-transfer law. Federal authorities have little experience in making law that governs wealth transfers, because that function is traditionally within the province of state law. Although state wealth-transfer law has undergone significant modernization over the last few decades, all three branches of the federal government-legislative, judicial, and executive have increasingly gone their own way. Lack of experience and, in many cases, lack of knowledge on the part of federal authorities have not dissuaded them from undermining well- considered state law. The Article covers these topics: federal preemption of several areas of state law, the development of federal common law as a sometime substitute for preempted state law, the federal tax exemption for perpetual trusts, and the right of posthumously conceived children of assisted reproduction to Social Security survivor benefits.