Copyright (c) 2007 Ohio Northern University Law Review
Ohio Northern University Law Review
THE THIRTIETH ANNUAL LAW REVIEW SYMPOSIUM FRONTIERS OF ESTATE PLANNING: CHANGING LAWS FOR CHANGING TIMES: SYMPOSIUM ARTICLE: Consequences of Heirs' Misconduct: Moving from Rules to Discretion
33 Ohio N.U.L. Rev. 975
Disposing of property at the owner's death can be a daunting and complex task today. There are federal and state tax concerns, probate court filings, and non- probate financial institution forms to complete. 1 Blackstone would be amazed at the paper generated, the number of institutional players involved in the process, and probably by the number of decedents who have property to be distributed. 2 But he would not be amazed at the primary takers. 3 The tables of heirship in the main have changed little in the two and a half centuries since his Commentaries appeared. 4 The circle of takers still revolves around spouse and family members: children, parents and siblings.
While the basic structure of primary takers has changed little since Blackstone, statutes have slowly expanded the number of those allowed in the circle, essentially by adding adjectives to the original descriptives. Adopted and non- marital children are two obvious examples where the common law norm of family for inheritance purposes has evolved. 5 Reproductive technology today presents challenges, in ways unthinkable to Blackstone, to further expand the embrace of inheritance. 6 These demands on inheritance, where certainty and stability are traditionally prized, lead some to say enough, "no-more- heirs." 7
Newton's third law of motion, simplified, is that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. As the number of those who may be considered heirs increases, on the one hand, there naturally may emerge an interest in statutory disinheritance ...
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