The Real Stories Behind “The Descendants”

Robert Thomas
Robert Thomas

BY ROBERT THOMAS – Our old U. Hawaii Wills & Trusts lawprof Randy Roth was the legal advisor to The Descendants, the 2011 George Clooney movie about a Honolulu lawyer (our review here). Professor Roth has published an article about his experience, which also details the legal cases that were the stories-behind-the-story. Here’s the summary:

The Descendants, an award winning film, depicts real controversies involving old Hawaiian Trusts while highlighting the modern debate of whether Hawai‘i is overdeveloped. This Article, using the film as its basis, gives further insight into the real stories echoed in the film in light of the legal issues that influenced the outcome of each story—that is, the Rule Against Perpetuities and a trustee’s duty to the trust and its beneficiaries. This Article artfully places the reader in the center of the disputes, begging the question of whether Hawai‘i should continue “paving paradise.”

The article, “Deconstructing The Descendants: How George Clooney Ennobled Old Hawaiian Trust and Made the Rule Against Perpetuities Sexy,” is available at 48 Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal 291 (Winter 2013), or you can get a pdf copy (if you are a member of the ABA’s RPT Section) here.

Its a short, enjoyable read. Besides, how many law review articles contain the words “George Clooney,” “Rule
Against Perpetuities,” and “Sexy” in a single title?

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