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Joel C. Dobris

Professor of Law Emeritus

Education

B.A. English, Yale College 1963

LL.B., University of Minnesota 1966

Biography

"Estate planning is the last stronghold of the general practitioner," said Professor Emeritus Joel Dobris. It is a field in which the lawyer is drawn intimately into the personal affairs of individuals. Finance, taxation, economics, sociology, psychology-all come into play in practices as varied as the lives of the clients. Ultimately however, this is a field for humanists; its precision instruments are words.

"I think the best preparation for a traditional legal education is to have majored in literature," said Dobris, a member of the American Law Institute. "One must read and write at a high level of abstraction." Dobris' scholarly writings have become standard reading on such diverse topics as arguments favoring divestment of South African securities, trust planning to qualify the elderly for Medicaid, financial and cognitive theory as they apply to trust investing and administration; and co-authoring a trust and estates casebook.

"This is a helping profession," said Dobris. "It's also an interesting and useful way to grow up."

Subject Areas

Trusts, Wills, And Estate Planning, Property (Including Property Theory), Fiduciary Duty, Nonprofit Governance

Selected Career Highlights

  • Distinguished Teaching Award, 1994
  • Mortimer H. Hess Memorial Lecture, Association of the Bar of the City of New York, "The Probate World at the End of the Century: Is a New Principal and Income Act in Your Future?", 1992
  • Lewinson Lecture, 1998
  • Reporter for the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws charged with amending the Revised Uniform Principal and Income Act and the Uniform Principal and Income Act
  • Member of the American Law Institute's Advisory Committee for the Restatement of Trusts, Prudent Investor Rule; and the Advisory Committee for the Principles of the Law of Non-Profit Corporations
  • Academic fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel

Selected Publications

Estates and Trusts, (3rd ed.) Foundation Press, 2007) (with Sterk & Leslie)

Estates and Trusts, (2rd ed.) Foundation Press, 2003) (with Sterk & Leslie)

Estates and Trusts, (Foundation Press, 1998) (with Sterk)

Decedent's Estates and Trusts, (Foundation Press, 1993) (with Ritchie, Alford, & Effland).

A Letter About Investing to a New Foundation Trustee, with Some Focus on Socially Responsible Investing, 34 Actec Journal 234 (2009)

SRI-Shibboleth or Canard, (Socially Responsible Investing, That Is), 42 Real Property Probate & Trust Journal 755 (2007)

Undoing Repeal of the Rule Against Perpetuities: Federal and State Tools for Breaking Perpetual Dynasty Trusts, 27 Cardozo L. Rev. 2537 (2006)

Why-five? The Strange, Magnetic and Mesmerizing Affect of the Five Percent Unitrust and Spending Rate on Settlors, Their Advisors, and Retirees, 40 Real Property Probate & Trust Journal 39 (2005)

Speculations on the Idea of "Speculation" in Trust Investing: An Essay, 39 Real Prop. Prob. & Tr. J. 439 (2004).

Federal Transfer Taxes: The Possibility of Repeal and the Post Repeal World, 48 Clev. St. L. Rev. 709 (2000).

The Death of the Rule Against Perpetuities, or the RAP Has No Friends: An Essay, 35 Real Property Probate & Trust Journal 601(2000).

Changes in the Role and the Form of the Trust at the New Millennium, 62 Albany Law Review 543 (1998)

Why Do Trustee Investors Often Prefer Dividends To Capital Gain and Debt Investments To Equity? A Daunting Principal and Income Problem, 32 Real Prop. Prob. & Tr. J. 255 (1997).

New Forms of Private Trusts for the 21st Century: Principal and, 31 Real Prop. Prob. & Tr. J. 1 (1996).

The Probate World at the End of the Century: Is a New Principal and Income Act in Your Future? 48 The Record 280 (Mortimer H. Hess Memorial Lecture), reprinted in slightly edited form in 28 Real Prop. Prob. & Tr. J. 393 (1993).

Real Return, Modern Portfolio Theory and College, University Foundation Decisions on Annual Spending from Endowment: A Visit to the World of Spending Rules, 28 Real Prop. Prob. & Tr. J. 49 (1993)

Boomer, 20 Years Later, An Introduction, with some Footnotes about "Theory.", 54/2 Alb. L. Rev. 171 (1990).

A Policy View of Medicaid Asset Planning by the Elderly: Expectations, Entitlement and Inheritance, 24/1 Real Prop. Prob. & Tr. J. 1 (1989).

Foreword: The Modern Family Fragmented, 22/3 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 691 (1989).

Arguments in Favor of Fiduciary Divestment of "South African" Securities, 65/2 Neb. L. Rev. 209 (1986)

Marshalling the Arguments in Favour of Abolishing the Capital Transfer Tax, 6 The Brit. Tax Rev. 363 (1984).

A Brief for the Abolition of All Transfer Taxes, 35/4 Syracuse L. Rev. 1215 (1984)

Do Contractual Will Arrangements Qualify for Qualified Terminable Interest Treatment under ERTA?, 19/2 Real Prop. Prob. & Tr. J. 625 (1984).

Ethical Problems for Lawyers upon Trust Terminations: Conflicts of Interest, 38/1 Miami L. Rev. 1 (1983)

Marital Deduction Estate Planning: Variations on a Classic Theme, 20/4 San Diego L. Rev. 801 (1983); reprinted in The Monthly Dig. of Tax Articles 17 (April 1984).

Limits on the Doctrine of Equitable Adjustment in Sophisticated Postmortem Tax Planning, 66 Iowa Law Review 273; reprinted with revisions in The Monthly Dig. of Tax Articles 21 (November 1981)

Equitable Adjustments in Postmortem Income Tax Planning: An Unremitting Diet of Warms, 65 Iowa L. Rev. 103 (1981).

Constitutional Law: New York Criminal Procedure Permitting Jury to Determine Voluntariness of a Confession Held Unconsitutional, 49/3 Minn. L. Rev. 360

Divestments of Assets to Qualify for Medicaid: Artificial Pauperization to Qualify for Nursing Home and Home Care Benefits, in Chapter 48 An Aging World (Clarendon Press, Oxford & Nihon Kajo Publishing, Tokyo, 1989).

Decedent's Estates and Trusts, (Foundation Press, 2007), Teachers' Manual (with S. Sterk & Melanie Leslie).

Decedent's Estates and Trusts, (Foundation Press, 1998), Teachers' Manual (with S. Sterk)

Decedent's Estates and Trusts, (Foundation Press 1993), Teachers' Manual (with Ritchie, Alford, & Effland)

Trusts & Estates, 61 (April 2004)

, 52/2 Ohio St. L. J. 625 (1992); Reprinted in Real Prop. Prob. & Tr. J. 559 (1992)

, Int'l J. L. & Fam. 343 (1990)

Schedule H: Powers of Appointment, Schedule I: Annuities; PLI, Tax Law and Estate Planning Series, Number 169, at 169, 229 (1986). (Lecture Outlines)

Drafting and Other Problems after ERTA, New York University, Institute on Federal Taxation, Third Annual Conference on Estate Planning 66 (Lecture Outline)

Selected Presentations

Hess Lecture, Association of the Bar of the City of New York

Lewinson Lecture, New York County Lawyers Association

Projects

Co-reporter appointed by the Nat'l Conf. of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws to amend the Revised Uniform Principal and Income Act and the Uniform Principal & Income Act

Service Activities

American Law Institute, Advisory Committee, Restatement of Trusts, Prudent Investor Rule

American Law Institute, Advisory Committee, Principles of the Law of Nonprofit Corporations