Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

AALS Call for Papers -- Historical and Empirical Evidence and the Law of Trusts and Estates: What Really Happened?


Trusts & Estates is a far-reaching and broad-based discipline of law that impacts private citizens’ decisions about mortality, property, and personal relationships. Many aspects of this legal discipline, however, are based on legislators’, judges’, and law reformers’ speculations about donors and their preferred intentions. And yet estate planning documents, whether created by lawyers or by the donors themselves, provide a window into history, society, and human interaction.  Although there are a handful of decades-old and oft-cited studies describing evidence derived from will vaults about what ordinary people had decided to do with their belongings and wealth, until recently relatively few trusts and estates scholars had explored empirical evidence in this field.  Over the past few years, however, there has been a renewed interest in analyzing historical and empirical evidence derived from court files, will vaults, tax and other records, and surveys of individuals and institutions.  Scholars have used this material to revisit some of long accepted assumptions and unanswered questions that underlie trusts and estates theory, doctrine, values, and practice. This panel will explore this ongoing historical and empirical research as it interrogates existing ideas about preferred default rules, interpretation standards, donor and beneficiary preferences, fiduciary norms, and wealth accumulation and transmission more generally.   

Submissions, due dates and method:

Submissions should be of abstracts between 250 and 1000 words, inclusive of any footnotes. Scholarship may be at any stage of the publication process from work-in-progress to completed article, but if already published, scholarship may not be published any earlier than 2016. Each potential speaker may submit only one abstract for consideration.

There are two submission due dates.  The Section seeks detailed abstracts in late summer, with final papers due in late fall.

  • The due date for detailed abstracts is August 25, 2017.
  • The due date for final papers is November 17, 2017.

Abstracts and papers should be submitted electronically to:  Deborah S. Gordon at dsg45@drexel.edu 

Submission review, selection, conference attendance:

Abstracts and papers will be reviewed by members of the Section’s Executive Committee.  Selected presenters will be announced in the fall of 2017.  The Call for Paper presenters will be responsible for paying their registration fee and hotel and travel expenses. 

Inquiries or questions:

Any inquiries about the Call for Papers should be directed to Professor Deborah Gordon at dsg45@drexel.edu , (215) 571-4811(w) or (610) 710-9322 (c). 


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