We previously suggested in this Journal that post-death publicity rights could be excluded from the decedent's estate for tax purposes if state legislation precluded the decedent from exercising post-death control. In other words, if state legislation designated who would hold these rights after the decedent's death, the value of these rights should not be subject to estate tax. Professor Joshua Tate, in his response to our essay, argues that under current law, estate tax inclusion would be required regardless of the decedent's ability to exercise control. So, for example, in Professor Tate's analysis, the estate tax would apply even if the legislation vested those rights in the decedent's oldest daughter and even if the decedent had no right to alter this outcome. Professor Tate's analysis misconstrues fundamental estate tax principles and misunderstands the precedents on which he relies.
Bridget J. Crawford, Mitchell M. Gans & Jonathan G. Blattmachr, The Estate Tax Fundamentals of Celebrity and Control, 118 Yale L.J. Pocket Part 50 (2008), http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/528/.