Trusts and Estates
Arkansas and Colorado were the first states to adopt the Uniform Community Property Disposition at Death Act. An update of a 1971 uniform law, this act provides rules and procedures for probate courts and trustees in common-law states to properly dispose of property that was acquired as community property in another jurisdiction. A similar bill is pending in the District of Columbia City Council, while bills in Nebraska and North Carolina failed to pass last year.
Kansas and Maryland were the 14th and 15th states to adopt the Uniform Trust Decanting Act (UTDA). The District of Columbia and Massachusetts also considered the UTDA as this issue went to press.
The District of Columbia and Vermont adopted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act (UPOAA) in 2023, and bills in Massachusetts and Michigan were awaiting a hearing. The UPOAA governs financial powers of attorney and has been adopted in 31 jurisdictions.
California became the seventh state to adopt the Uniform Fiduciary Income and Principal Act, the latest set of accounting standards for trusts. A similar bill passed both houses of the Missouri legislature with slight differences, but the versions were not reconciled before the session calendar ended.
Hawaii was the latest state to consider the Uniform Guardianship, Conservatorship, and Other Protective Arrangements Act (UGCOPAA), a comprehensive statute that brings guardianship law into the modern age. The bill did not pass but is being studied by an interim committee for a future legislative session. UGCOPAA was recommended for enactment in all states by the US Senate Special Committee on Aging and the 10 constituent organizations comprising the National Guardianship Network.
The Uniform Directed Trust Act (UDTA) was passed by both houses of the California legislature and was awaiting Governor Newsom’s signature at press time. Sixteen states have adopted the UDTA, and another bill is pending in the District of Columbia. A Vermont UDTA bill did not pass but will likely be reintroduced in 2024.
The District of Columbia, Idaho, and Minnesota adopted the Uniform Electronic Wills Act (UEWA) in 2023, while similar bills failed in Missouri and Texas. One UEWA bill remains under consideration in New Jersey. Meanwhile, Illinois became the first state to adopt the comprehensive Uniform Electronic Estate Planning Documents Act, also introduced in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. Taken together, these two acts authorize using electronic documents and signatures by estate planners and their clients.
In 2024, the newly revised Uniform Health-Care Decisions Act will offer states a comprehensive statute to govern advance directives, healthcare powers of attorney, and health-care surrogates. This act addresses several issues that most current state laws do not, including mental health-care directives, conflicting orders, and challenges to a determination that a patient lacks the capacity to make his own health-care decisions.
ULC legislative counsel can consult and assist with enactment efforts in any state. For more information about uniform real property acts, please contact ULC Legislative Counsel Jane Sternecky at (312) 450-6622 or [email protected]. For uniform trust and estate acts, contact ULC Chief Counsel Benjamin Orzeske at (312) 450-6621 or [email protected].