Why Did Trust Law Become Statute Law in the United States?

15 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2007


The Uniform Trust Code, the first national-level codification of the American law of trusts, was promulgated in 2000. The Code was the product of a five-year Uniform Law Commission drafting process that entailed extensive consultation with the trust and estates bar and the trust banking industry. The Code is being widely enacted. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have thus far adopted it, and many others are likely to follow. Alabama's enactment comes into effect in 2007. For the future, trust law in Alabama and the other Code states will be prevailingly statute law, although the principles developed in prior case law will continue to inform the interpretation and application of the Code. In one sense, the Code marks a great departure by codifying a previously uncodified field. In another sense, however, the Code is simply the latest step in a trend toward statutory intervention in American trust law that has been underway for decades. If we focus on the Uniform Laws, and I shall have more to say about why uniform legislation has so characterized the trust field, we can identify a steady progression of enactments from the 1930s onward.

Suggested Citation

Langbein, John H., Why Did Trust Law Become Statute Law in the United States?. Alabama Law Review, Vol. 58, No. 5, 2007, Yale Law & Economics Research Paper No. 341, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1014236

John H. Langbein (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States
(203) 432-7299 (Phone)

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