Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Pest of a Will


Carl J. Drake, who spent the last eight years of his life working as a research assistant t the Smithsonian, also spent his life studying bugs.  When he died in 1965, the entomologist left his lift savings and vast insect collection to the Smithsonian.  Now, after almost fifty years, the Smithsonian Institution says it’s having a difficult time carrying out Drake’s wishes, including buying more bugs. 

Over the years, the Smithsonian has used the money Drake has left in his will to the Institution to purchase about a dozen insect collections.  However, purchasing new bugs is tough due to changes to an environmental law made in the 1980s.  Those changes increased the red tape surrounding insect collecting, such as documents needed to prove the collections were made legally. 

The Smithsonian wants to use the income from Drake’s investment (now about $4 million) to not only purchase insects, but to support scientific research on Drake’s collection and other “True Bugs” it owns. 

For now, the petition to make changes lies in a federal judge’s hands, and it is unknown when she will rule.

See Associated Press, Smithsonian Museum is Bugging Out Over Insect Inheritance, The Guardian, June 12, 2014. 


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