Update on Divided Trusteeship Drafting Committee

The drafting committee for an Act on Divided Trusteeship met just outside of Washington D.C. on Friday and Saturday, October 23 and 24, 2015. The meeting was well attended, not only by the Commissioners, but also by our ABA Advisors and numerous observers—including prominent practitioners and representatives from several major trust banks.

The main agenda item was review of a “discussion draft,” with an emphasis on resolving several critical policy questions: What should be the duties of a directed trustee? What should be the duties of a trust director? To what extent should these duties be default, subject to override by the settlor in the terms of the trust? Should the law governing the duties of co-trustees be reformed to align with directed and divided trusteeship? Another important agenda item was to resolve a host of subsidiary implementing questions, as noted in the discussion notes of the discussion draft and the issues memo that accompanied the draft.

The committee reaffirmed its earlier decision to employ an “enabling” structure for the act. The discussion draft authorizes directed and divided trusteeship, but only to the extent provided by the terms of a trust. That is, instead of creating categories of persons with default powers over the administration of the trust, the draft authorizes the naming of a “trust director” with such powers—but only such powers—as given expressly by the terms of the trust.

Toward the end of the meeting the committee decided to recast the project as an Act on Directed and Divided Trusteeship for clarity and to align better with practice jargon.

When the meeting adjourned on Saturday afternoon, there was a strong sense that considerable progress had been made. This meeting was the second of what is planned to be five in-person drafting sessions. The committee is scheduled to meet again in Spring 2016, Fall 2016, and Spring 2017. After the Spring 2016 meeting, the committee will read the then-current draft of the act at the Annual Meeting of the Uniform Law Commission in Summer 2016. After the Spring 2017 meeting, the committee will read the proposed final version at the Annual Meeting in Summer 2017, at which the Uniform Law Commission will be asked to approve the act.

Robert H. Sitkoff, Chair; Turney P. Berry, Vice-Chair; John Morley, Reporter

Update on Divided Trusteeship Drafting Committee

The ULC’s Broad Reach

As I traveled home from this past weekend’s committee meetings in suburban Washington, DC, I was struck by the broad reach of the work of the drafting committee meetings that had just finished.

The Criminal Records Accuracy is dealing with issues that directly affect the 70 to 100 million Americans who have some kind of a criminal record, as well as the entire law enforcement community, and indirectly, all Americans, as we all have an interest in a fair and effective criminal justice system.

The Drafting Committee on a Wage Garnishment Act is working to create a fair and efficient wage withholding system for debt collection, affecting the interests of many millions of American debtors, their employers and creditors.

The Drafting Committee on Divided Trusteeship might sound like a project that affects only the wealthy and the institutions that manage their money. Certainly, the effective management of trusts involves a great deal of capital. But that’s not the whole picture. Even many people with very modest assets may benefit from trusts, as is exemplified by interest in our draft by members of the special needs trust community.

And that’s just the briefest description of the scope of the issues dealt with on a single drafting committee weekend. We are just about half-way through our fall drafting committee season and our pending projects have already touched upon the needs of residents in Indian Country through the Drafting Committee to Amend the Model Tribal Secured Transactions Act and the Drafting Committee on a Tribal Probate Code, the interests of consumers, businesses and state governments through the work of the Drafting Committee to Revise the Unclaimed Property Act, the interests of digital entrepreneurs, consumers and regulators through the work of our Drafting Committee on the Regulation of Virtual Currencies Act and those of children, disabled seniors and others, and their caregivers through the Drafting Committee on the Guardianship and Protective Proceedings Act.

Of course, the breadth of the ULC’s efforts is far greater – from the Revised Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, to Social Media Privacy, to the Regulation of Drones — if we look to completed Uniform Acts, those in progress and those that are under study. You can see more at uniformlaws.org

Many people think of the ULC as a commercial law organization and commercial law has been a critical focus of our activity. But we are much, much more.

Rich Cassidy, President, ULC

The ULC’s Broad Reach

Update from the State and Federal Relations and Liaison with Other Organizations Committee

We had a great meeting of the State and Federal Relations and Liaison with Other Organizations Committees in Washington DC. Representative from our liaison organizations – including the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Association of Attorneys General, the National Association of Secretaries of State, the National Center for State Courts, and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts – attended.  They informed us about their current work and reported that many states are considering legislation in the following areas: criminal justice reform; election issues; cyber-security and data breach security; patent laws; and civil justice reform. They also reminded us that we can learn more about state legislative concerns by checking their websites:   www.ncsl.org . www.nass.org; www.csg.org; www.naag.org; and www.ncsc.org .

Chris Cushing and Jennifer Pharaoh, our representatives in Washington, reminded us that they are willing to arrange meetings between ULC Commissioners and Congressional representatives on matters of importance to the ULC.  If you will be in DC for ULC or other business and could attend such a meeting without extra expense to the ULC, please let Katie Robinson in the ULC office know and she will check to see if you can be of help.

Martha Walters, Chair, Committee on State and Federal Relations

Update from the State and Federal Relations and Liaison with Other Organizations Committee

Update on Wage Garnishment Drafting Committee

The Drafting Committee on a Wage Garnishment Act met on Oct. 23-24 in Falls Church, VA, and made great progress.  Our reporter, Steve Willborn, prepared a terrific draft that incorporated the comments we received last summer in Williamsburg, and we had time to review the draft in depth.

One of the ways in which our act will improve on current law will be the quality of the notification that will be provided to employees.  We are raising funds (successfully so far but with a bit to go) to engage the services of a plain-language specialist who will help us with both the language and the manner of presentation.  Under the act, wage withholding cannot begin until the first payday occurring more than 30 days after the notification is sent to the employee.

We will be seeking an expansion of our charge from Scope and Program so that we can extend the protections of the act to wages deposited into a bank account.  Many employees today are “unbanked” because creditors can reach all the funds in their bank accounts.  Under our act (and federal law), wage garnishment is limited so that employees have a reason to keep working and at least some money to live on.  The ability of creditors to reach post-garnishment wages in an employee’s bank account dilutes the protections of our act, and we will be considering ways in which the employee can assert an exemption for those wages if the account is garnished.  We have had preliminary discussions with representatives from the banking community and are cautiously optimistic that our goal can be achieved.

The committee also decided to explore whether the protections of the act can be extended to a cadre of workers who are classified as independent contractors but who are similar to employees in that they provide personal services and are paid on a regular, ongoing basis.  Our Reporter will prepare provisions designed to accomplish that goal and the committee will review them at its spring meeting and determine whether they are feasible.

All in all, it was an excellent meeting, and we look forward to presenting our work at the ULC’s annual meeting in Stowe, Vermont, next summer.  The current draft of the Wage Garnishment Act is posted on the ULC website and is available here.

William H. Henning, Chair, Drafting Committee on a Wage Garnishment Act

Update on Wage Garnishment Drafting Committee

Looking for Feedback on ULC’s New Tagline

ULC Header Logo 2ULC Header Logo 1

ULC will soon be rolling out a new website with improved functionality and a more modern design. Part of the modernization of the website includes updating our tagline (the short motto at the top of many pages and marketing materials). According to our graphic design consultants, the ULC’s current tagline, “Diversity of Thought / Uniformity of Law” is too long for a modern attention span.

In September the ULC Website Advisory Committee asked the membership for tagline recommendations via email, and received a total of 89 suggestions. The committee reviewed all recommendations with an eye to find those that best described in four words or less what the ULC does, in a way that would be accessible to someone with no prior knowledge of the organization. The committee distilled this list to two taglines and is recommending the following choices be considered for the new website:

Better Laws. Stronger States.

Making State Law Better.

Now the committee is asking for your feedback on these finalists. The Executive Committee will formally consider recommendations at the Midyear Board Meeting in January. In the meantime, we look to public opinion to help guide the selection process. Please take a moment to reply to this blog post or drop us an email to let us know what you think.

Elizabeth Cotton-Murphy
Chief Administrative Officer, ULC

Looking for Feedback on ULC’s New Tagline

Welcome to the ULC Blog

One of my goals as President of the Uniform Law Commission is to improve the internal transparency of the Uniform Law Commission. That is to say, I want to make it easier for our members to follow ULC activity. The digital revolution has made it far easier for us to do this.

To help us achieve this goal we have created a “blog” where members can post relatively brief news items that any member or any other person can access. Those interested will also have the opportunity to sign up to be notified of each new post by email.

I am hoping that this blog will allow ULC Officers, Division Chairs, Committee Chairs, and other members, to provide relevant information on their work. The blog will focus on highlights rather than try to be comprehensive.

I hope that this will expand the ability of members to stay informed and to weigh in on issues between our meetings. That will increase member engagement and improve our decision-making processes.

I hope you enjoy this opportunity to be in closer touch with ULC activities. There is a lot going on!

Rich Cassidy, President, Uniform Law Commission

Welcome to the ULC Blog

Update on Unclaimed Property Drafting Committee

The Drafting Committee for the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act (UUPA) met in Washington, D.C. on October 9-10, 2015. UUPA involves a substantial revision of its immediate predecessor, the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act (1995), which itself was a rewrite of its predecessor, the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act (1981). The ULC initially adopted an unclaimed property act in 1954.

Unclaimed Property Act drafting committee meeting.
Many participants attended the Oct. 2015 UUPA drafting committee meeting in Washington DC.

This is the fourth meeting of the Drafting Committee, and one additional meeting will be held in the spring of 2016. UUPA is expected to be presented to the Uniform Law Commission for its second and final reading in Stowe, Vermont, next summer.

All 53 jurisdictions that comprise the ULC have some form of unclaimed property law. In some form, 39 or the 53 jurisdictions have enacted the 1981 or 1995 versions of the Act. The drafting committee is addressing approximately 77 issues in this proposed revision. At the most recent meeting, co-chaired by Commissioners Michael Houghton (Delaware) and Rex Blackburn (Idaho) with Commissioner Charlie Trost (Tennessee) serving as Reporter, the committee undertook consideration of, among other important issues, revisions of the action relating to unclaimed property in the securities and life insurance areas.

Rex Blackburn and Mike Houghton, Co-Chairs, UUPA Drafting Committee

Update on Unclaimed Property Drafting Committee