United States: Attorney James Spica Addresses ABA Real Property, Trust And Estate Law Section 2018 Spring Symposia
Last Updated: May 18 2018

On Thursday, May 10, 2018, Dickinson Wright Attorney James P. Spica addressed the American Bar Association (ABA) Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section 2018 Spring Symposia in Orlando, Florida as a member of the Symposia CLE faculty. His topic was the Uniform Directed Trust Act (UDTA). The UDTA has been promulgated by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, also known as the Uniform Law Commission (ULC). Mr. Spica is a ULC Commissioner (appointed by the State of Michigan's bipartisan Legislative Council) and served as the ABA Advisor to the ULC Drafting Committee that developed the UDTA. He is also the Chair of the Divided and Directed Trusteeships Committee of the Council of the Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan, which has developed a legislative proposal to enact the UDTA in Michigan as an amendment to the Michigan Trust Code. (That proposal is currently being prepared in the form of bill requests by the Michigan Legislative Service Bureau.)

Mr. Spica is the principal author of the Michigan Personal Property Trust Perpetuities Act and of Michigan's multi-statute "trust decanting" regime. In addition to serving as the ABA advisor to the ULC Directed Trust Drafting Committee, he served on the ad hoc committee of the ABA Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Section that drafted the Section's response to the Treasury Department's request (IRS Notice 2011-101) for comments on the tax implications of trust decanting. He is a member of the ULC's Fiduciary Income and Principal Act (UFIPA) Drafting Committee, a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), a former member of the ACTEC State Laws Committee, a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a member of the Michigan Commission on Uniform State Laws, Chair of the UFIPA Committee of the Council of the Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan (Council), a former member of the Council (2006-2015), and a current member of the Probate and Estate Planning Advisory Board of Michigan's Institute of Continuing Legal Education.

As a Member in Dickinson Wright's Detroit office, Mr. Spica focuses his practice on estate and tax planning, trust banking, and trust litigation. Listed in Chambers High Net Worth Guide, The Best Lawyers in America, Michigan Super Lawyers, Leading Lawyers, and DBusiness Top Lawyers, he is the author of the Commentaries on the Michigan Powers of Appointment Act, the Michigan Uniform Statutory Rule Against Perpetuities, and the Personal Property Trust Perpetuities Act in the Michigan Probate Sourcebook (3rd ed. 2018), of the decanting chapter in Trust Administration Under the Michigan Trust Code (2010 & Supp.), and of the wills chapters in the Michigan Estate Planning Handbook (3rd ed. 2016 & Supp.). He clerked for Hon. Richard C. Wilbur on the United States Tax Court (1985) and taught jurisprudence, taxation, trusts, and decedents' estates as an Assistant/Associate Professor of Law at the University of Detroit Mercy (1989-2000, tenured 1996).

About the Uniform Directed Trust Act

The UDTA addresses an increasingly common arrangement in contemporary estate planning and asset management in which the terms of a trust grant a person other than a trustee (sometimes referred to as a "trust protector" or "trust adviser") a power over some aspect of the trust's administration. There is much uncertainty in existing law about the fiduciary duties both of a nontrustee who has such a power and of a trustee who is subject to one. The UDTA systematically address these and many other practical questions raised by the use of nontrustee powers of trust administration.

The Uniform Law Commission's History

On August 24, 1892, representatives from seven states—Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania—met in Saratoga Springs, New York, to form what is now known as the ULC. By 1912, every state was participating in the ULC, and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands also participate. There have been 125 Annual Conferences since 1892, convening at least once every year since the national organization's founding, with the exception of 1945. Over the course of its history, the ULC has become known as a distinguished body of lawyers. Its members include judges, academics, practitioners, and legislators. President Woodrow Wilson became a member in 1901, and several Justices of the United States Supreme Court, including former Justices Brandeis, Rutledge, and Souter and former Chief Justice Rehnquist, have served as commissioners. Many legal scholars have also served, including Professors John H. Wigmore, Samuel Williston, Roscoe Pound, and George G. Bogert. To learn more about the ULC, please click here.

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