The Creeping Federalization of Wealth-Transfer Law

29 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2013 Last revised: 22 Nov 2014

Date Written: November 15, 2013


Federal authorities have little experience in making law that governs wealth transfers, because that function is traditionally within the province of state law. Although state wealth-transfer law has undergone significant modernization over the last few decades, all three branches of the federal government — legislative, judicial, and executive — have increasingly gone their own way. Lack of experience and, in many cases, lack of knowledge on the part of federal authorities have not dissuaded them from undermining well-considered state law.

This article appears in a symposium issue published by the Vanderbilt Law Review on The Role of Federal Law in Private Wealth Transfer.

The Article covers these topics: federal preemption of several areas of state law, the development of federal common law as a sometime substitute for preempted state law, the federal tax exemption for perpetual trusts, and the right of posthumously conceived children of assisted reproduction to Social Security survivor benefits.

Keywords: federal law, wealth transfer

JEL Classification: K34

Suggested Citation

Waggoner, Lawrence W., The Creeping Federalization of Wealth-Transfer Law (November 15, 2013). Vanderbilt Law Review, Vol. 67, No. 6, 2014, U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper No. 356, U of Michigan Law & Econ Research Paper No. 13-019, Available at SSRN: or

Lawrence W. Waggoner (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

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