Before law school, I was fortunate to work for an estate planning attorney and to learn the benefits placing property in a trust could provide in managing assets. An irrevocable trust is one that cannot be terminated once it has been created. The treatise I have chosen to critique is Irrevocable Trusts, Analysis with Forms by Robert A. Esperti, Renno L. Peterson, and Robert S. Keebler. The purpose of this blog posting is to discuss the organization and content of the treatise and assess its usefulness to a user with little or basic knowledge of this subject. A basic subject search of “irrevocable trusts” in the Charlotte School of Law Library catalog will retrieve three results, the last two of which are the treatise in question (call number KF 730.E83). This treatise is not available electronically. The book is physically located in the Treatise Section (or “quiet zone”) of the Library, in the row of compact shelving labeled “KF645-KF889; Real Property; Trusts & Estates; Contracts; Commercial Code.”
The treatise is a single volume set consisting of two supplements that have been updated yearly since 2008. Each supplement consists of 16 chapters with a detailed Table of Contents. The subtopics of each chapter can go at least four levels in some instances (i.e., 2.03;; [d]; [ii]). The chapters are segregated by the type of trust. Each chapter consists of the following sections: a general overview, requirements, and special rules for the particular type of trust. The Highlights and Filing Instructions (“Highlights page”), located at the front of the treatise, contains information related to revised materials, the elimination of the previous year’s supplements, and date the newest supplements were received. The treatise currently consists of 2012 Cumulative Supplement No. 1 (received April 11, 2012) and No. 2 (received Fall 2012). Attached to the back cover of the treatise is an Irrevocable Trusts Forms on Disc CD. The CD includes examples of various trust documents and checklists covering various drafting and estate structuring scenarios.
HOW TO SEARCH
There are many ways this treatise can be helpful to an attorney. For example, say your client wants to know how to set up a charitable trust, and what their benefits are. A few search terms you may develop include “charitable trust,” “trustee,” and “tax deduction.” Searching the index for “charitable trust” returns no results. Amending the search to “charitable” takes the user to a list of charitable trusts and their characteristics. Using the index is helpful if you are searching for a specific trust. The topics listed tend to be specific, but may be too broad, in some cases, for the user unfamiliar with charitable trusts. The main index topic is in bold and subtopics are formatted by the number of dots placed before it.
From a search of the index, you discern that the most relevant topics for your client are in Chapters 9 and 10. Chapter 9 discusses Charitable Lead Trusts and Chapter 10, Charitable Remainder Trusts. The overview at the beginning of each chapter defines the main difference in the trusts. A Charitable Lead Trust distributes trust income to a charity, while principal is distributed to another beneficiary. The Charitable Remainder Trust distributes trust income to a beneficiary, while the principal is distributed to the charity(s). This should be a nice starting point before venturing into the particular details of your client’s needs. Also, at the end of each chapter, there are checklists covering the trust requirements and other considerations.
The treatise is very useful in that it is continually updated, and contains an organized and detailed table of contents that flows nicely, as well as helpful general overviews at the beginning of each chapter. Additionally, the checklists at the end of each chapter are excellent and make up for a rather confusing index that should be reserved for those well-versed in irrevocable trusts. If the treatise Irrevocable Trusts is not enough, there are many well-organized and helpful resources on-line, some of which include nolo.com, wealthcounsel.com, and planningforelders.com. These sites contain helpful information on the basics of estate planning and trust law and offer the latest news in this field of law.
~ Kevin Rinehart, Class of 2013 ~