Why States Should Adopt USRAP

The idea of reforming the common law rule against perpetuities has been percolating since the late 1940s. Various reform measures were advanced during this early period, but none was able to attract more than four or five enactments. At long last, the reform process has produced a statutory reform measure that does make uniform perpetuity reform possible. The Uniform Statutory Rule Against Perpetuities has quickly become far and away the most widely adopted perpetuity-reform measure in the country and the only realistic hope for uniform perpetuity reform.

Uniformity in this area is especially desirable. The desirability of uniformity stems mainly from the high degree of mobility in American society. Many clients, for example, retire to states other than the one in which they were domiciled during their employment years. Many other clients own land in states other than the state of their domicile. Many trusts confer a power of appointment upon the settlor's children or grandchildren who might be domiciled in different states when they exercise their powers. These and other sometimes unplanned for post-execution events can give rise to increased conflict-of-laws litigation and the potential applicability of the perpetuity law of any state in the union.

The merits of the USRAP are that it:

  • fine tunes the rule against perpetuities so that it reaches only its real target, that of placing an outer time limit on long-term or perpetual trusts while validating reasonable trusts;
  • extends the benefits of a perpetuity savings clause to trust clients whose lawyers neglected to put one in;
    is simple to administer;
  • requires no new learning of the bar; and
  • nearly eliminates perpetuity litigation.

Because of the desirability of uniformity in this area and because the USRAP method of reform is superior to other methods so far devised, enactment of the USRAP should not be restricted to states that have not yet enacted a perpetuity-reform measure. Several of the enacting states had previously adopted one of the earlier perpetuity-reform measures, which they repealed incident to enactment of the USRAP.