Over the past year, much media attention has been given to the issue of wealth inequality in the United States and elsewhere. Some studies have found that the COVID-19 pandemic has widened that wealth gap. In response to this perceived inequality, a few elected officials have called for a wealth tax on households with income above a certain level. So it’s no surprise that law review journal articles are now opining on this issue. Indeed, two of the articles reviewed in our Review of Reviews Special Report focus on the interplay between estate planning and the disparity in wealth. In one article reviewed by Patricia M. Angus, “How Should Inheritance Law Remediate Inequality?” p. 33, the author asserts that trusts and estates should promote intergenerational economic mobility and advocates for a progressive inheritance law that redresses the current inequality. The other, reviewed by Thomas H. Norelli, “Dynasty 529 Plans and Structural Inequality,” p. 36, discusses the question of whether the rules governing Internal Revenue Code Section 529 plans are structured in such a way that the tax benefits aren’t equally available to individuals of all socioeconomic strata. The author goes on to offer potential solutions to the lack of fairness.
Issues regarding the distribution of wealth within families can also cause problems for fiduciaries, causing them to end up in court. This month’s Estate Litigation Committee Report addresses these problems. In “To Seek a Court’s Advice and Direction, or Not to Seek, That is the Question,” p. 42, Jay W. Freiberg and Yelena Rapoport cover when and how fiduciaries should seek advice from a court before taking certain actions on thorny trust issues. And “Beneficiary Access to Information,” p. 38, by Jeremy Mellitz, advises fiduciaries on the best way to avoid litigation when it comes to giving information about trust provisions to the beneficiaries.