March 14, 2011
The Uniform Law Commission has formed a new drafting committee to prepare a Uniform Act on Powers of Appointment. Robert H. Sitkoff, the John L. Gray Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, has been named as a member of the drafting committee. An expert in trusts and estates, Sitkoff serves under gubernatorial appointment as a Uniform Law Commissioner from Massachusetts.
Professor W. Barton Leach, one of Sitkoff's predecessors at Harvard, memorably characterized the power of appointment as "the most efficient dispositive device that the ingenuity of Anglo-American lawyers has ever worked out." Today powers of appointment are routine in modern trust practice to preserve flexibility and to provide tax benefits. The aim of the new drafting committee is to prepare a uniform act that will clarify and modernize the law governing powers of appointment.
Established in 1892, the Uniform Law Commission provides states with non-partisan legislation bringing clarity and stability to critical areas of state statutory law. Among the Commission’s many products are the Uniform Commercial Code, the Uniform Probate Code, and the Uniform Trust Code. Within the Uniform Law Commission, Sitkoff is also a member of the drafting committee that is preparing a revised Uniform Act on Premarital and Marital Agreements; he is a liaison member of the Joint Editorial Board for Uniform Trusts and Estates Acts; and he previously served as the reporter (principal drafter) for the Uniform Statutory Trust Entity Act.
The youngest chaired professor with tenure in the history of Harvard Law School, Sitkoff previously taught at New York University School of Law and at Northwestern University School of Law. Sitkoff’s primary research focus is economic and empirical analysis of the law of trusts and estates. His work has been published in leading scholarly journals such as the Yale Law Journal, the Columbia Law Review, and the Journal of Law and Economics. Sitkoff is a co-author of Wills, Trusts, and Estates (Aspen 8th ed. 2009), the leading American coursebook on trusts and estates. He is the editor of the Wills, Trusts, and Estates abstracting journal of the Social Science Research Network and is an academic Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.