Thursday, April 29, 2010

Caron on Warren Burger's Will

Paul L. Caron, University of Cincinnati College of Law, has posted Chief Justice Burger: A Better Tax Lawyer Than His Critics, which originally appeared in Tax Notes 69,(1995): 1020-21. Here is the abstract:
Media reports of Warren Burger's homemade three-sentence will crowed about the former Chief Justice's lack of legal acumen in drafting the will. A local attorney alleged that Burger's $1.6 million estate would incur a $450,000 federal and state estate tax liability that could have been entirely avoided by elementary estate planning, noting that "the shoemaker's children are the last ones to get shoes."

It was a great story - if only it were true. This article examines the estate tax consequences of the Burger will and concludes that it is the critics, not the Chief Justice, who do not understand basic estate planning.