Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, November 28, 2011

Professor Provides Guidance to ‘The Descendants’

The descendantsRandall W. Roth (Professor of Law, University of Hawaii) provided information on trusts and the rule against perpetuities to Jim Burke, the producer of The Descendants. The information provided by Roth helped build the film’s plot, as George Clooney’s character must decided what to do with a trust that must be wound down at a particular date following the rule against perpetuities.

The storyline has similarities to the trust issues that surrounded the trustees of Hawaii’s Campbell Estate a few years ago. The 107 year old trust was set to dissolve in January 2007, following the rule against perpetuities and the terms of the trust. Some heirs opted to roll their assets into a new national real estate entity, while others took large cash pay-outs. According to Professor Roth, around six family trusts in Hawaii have faced similar situations in recent years.

While discussing how these estate planning issues were incorporated into the film, Professor Roth said, “I was impressed that Jim [Burke, the producer] and Alexander [Payne, the director] were so concerned about getting the details right, even small details that most people wouldn’t be aware of.”

See Julia Flynn Siler, ‘The Descendants’ Aims to Lay Down the Law in Hawaii, The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 26, 2011.


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