Chief Justice Burger: A Better Tax Lawyer Than His Critics

3 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2010

See all articles by Paul L. Caron

Paul L. Caron

Pepperdine University - School of Law

Date Written: April 1, 2010


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.

Keywords: tax, estate planning, wills, probate, tax planning, unified credit, marital deduction

JEL Classification: K34, K49

Suggested Citation

Caron, Paul L., Chief Justice Burger: A Better Tax Lawyer Than His Critics (April 1, 2010). Tax Notes, Vol. 69, p. 1020, 1995; U of Cincinnati Public Law Research Paper No. 10-13. Available at SSRN:

Paul L. Caron (Contact Author)

Pepperdine University - School of Law ( email )

24255 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90263
United States
310.506.4266 (Phone)

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