Is My Family Constitution Unconstitutional?

Law & Inequality (Sua Sponte, Online Publication), Spring 2019

17 Pages Posted: 31 May 2019

See all articles by Allison Anna Tait

Allison Anna Tait

University of Richmond - School of Law

Date Written: May 8, 2019


Every high-wealth family should write a constitution, at least that’s what wealth managers say. Because, “[w]ithout careful planning and stewardship, a hard earned fortune can easily be dissipated within a generation or two.” A family constitution, as the name implies, is a governance document that high-wealth families create, setting forth the rules that family members will adhere to in order to protect the family fortune from various kinds of creditor claims, family feuds, and reckless investments. Wealth advisors recommend basing family constitutional design on political constitutions, in particular the United States Constitution. Nevertheless, the financial planning discourse never addresses one critical question: how successful is the analogy? This brief Article posits that the analogy between the two types of constitutions is imperfect in several significant ways and mainly because family constitutions largely ignore some of the core principles that animate a democratic constitution.

Keywords: trusts and estates, family wealth preservation, wealth management, trust law, probate law, high-wealth divorce, family constitutions, family governance, family business

Suggested Citation

Tait, Allison Anna, Is My Family Constitution Unconstitutional? (May 8, 2019). Law & Inequality (Sua Sponte, Online Publication), Spring 2019. Available at SSRN:

Allison Anna Tait (Contact Author)

University of Richmond - School of Law ( email )

28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA 23173
United States

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