Professor Lawrence Waggoner nominally aims his critique at wealthy individuals who desire perpetual trusts and the lawmakers who enable them by passing favorable legislation. He lodges five specific objections: (1) after a certain period of time, the beneficiaries of perpetual trusts will be insufficiently related to the trust creator; (2) after a certain period of time, there will be too many beneficiaries of a perpetual trust; (3) perpetual trusts will be expensive to manage; (4) outdated trust instruments will hamper management of perpetual trusts; and (5) trustee turnover will negatively impact perpetual trusts. This Essay considers each of his objections in turn, and concludes that Professor Waggoner’s concerns are misplaced and exaggerated. Perpetual trusts raise important policy concerns, to be sure, but “folly” is in the eye of the beholder. The legal system does not yet have enough experience with perpetual trusts to understand their full implications. A more prudent approach would be to embrace a variation on the long-standing approach to perpetuities problems: let’s wait and see.
Bridget J. Crawford, Who Is Afraid of Perpetual Trusts?, 111 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions 79 (2012)