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Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Body Heat - Not About ERISA but About . . . the Rule Against Perpetuities?!?

Previously, I've pointed out movies that are ERISA-centric, with my favorite example being Wall Street (a pension-overfunding movie*).  See also a follow-on post (focusing on Casino).  Well, I am now pushed to venture out into the non-ERISA world, as my friend Phil S. has pointed out to me that Body Heat** is a movie that is about . . . are you ready? . . . the Rule Against Perpetuities!!!!***  It turns out that the estate-planning mistake in the movie centered on the Rule.  Wow.

In terms of my own fascination with the Rule, when I was in law school my T&E professor cited us to the case of Lucas v. Hamm (thanks to Jed B. for knowing the long-forgotten citation), which in effect stands for the proposition that, since negligence is a standard that harkens back to what the reasonably prudent person might do, and that in turn arguably looks to how the general populace (or maybe a subset thereof) acts, mistakes relating to the Rule Against Perpetuities don't rise to the level of legal malpractice because: NO ONE understands the Rule Against Perpetuities!  Hilarious - absolutely hilarious. 

Sorry for the non-ERISA distraction here, but this is just too good to pass up.

* Note that the movie would not have worked after the enactment of Sen. Metzenbaum's excise-tax on reversions, as the takeover strategy there was essentially torpedoed by the tax.

** William Hurt was my favorite actor at around that time, after he appeared in Altered States.

*** The Rule apparently also figures significantly in The Descendants. 

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