Founding Documents and Property Rights

Founding Documents and Property Rights (2)

Hello and welcome back to my blog. For this second “episode” I was wanted to discuss the Constitution and how it relates to wills, trusts, estate planning, and property rights. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and it guarantees rights to all of us.

The entire Constitution, among other documents, can be found at:

So why was the Constitution written?

After we had won our freedom in the Revolutionary War, the Articles of Confederation were the documents that Congress used to frame our government. The Articles of Confederation did not establish a very strong central government because of what our Founding Fathers were afraid of – monarchy. The Articles proved inadequate for the problems our young nation was facing. The Constitution wasn’t adopted until 1789.

The Constitution was written to establish our government, and secure the rights of the people. I think the preamble says it best:

We the Peopleof the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence [sic], promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

What does the Constitution do for us?

I won’t spell out everything the Articles of the Constitution do, but in a nutshell they establish Congress and the House of Representatives, the Supreme Court and federal courts, and the office of the president (if you recall, the legislative, judicial, and executive branches). Further, they define the prerequisites to being a senator, representative, and the president. It also provides that it is the supreme law of the land, and defines how the document is to be amended in the future should the need arise.

The first 10 amendments to the Constitution – the Bill of Rights

The representatives of various states were still very concerned that the central government would become too large and powerful. They had just broken free of tyranny and didn’t want a repeat of that type of control. They demanded the first ten amendments to the Constitution before they would ratify the document. This “Bill of Rights” as it is known limits what the federal government can do to the citizens. At first it was believed that this only limited the federal government, and not the state governments. Through “incorporation” these have mostly been held to apply to the states as well. What good would having free speech guaranteed to you by the federal government be if the state you lived in outlawed it?

So how does the Constitution relate to wills, trusts, and property rights?

Because the Constitution guarantees our personal freedoms, and because the power the government has is derived from the people themselves, this is our country. Property rights are deeply rooted in our American way of life. When we acquire property through our hard work and good fortune we don’t want a government taking our property away without due process and just compensation. Further, the fourth amendment provides in pertinent part: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause”. Because it is ours, we want to be able to determine who gets our property when we die. This is what a will, living trust (sometimes called a revocable trust), and the entire process of estate planning accomplishes for us.


See lots of estate planning information on my website at:


My most important job is to listen to your wishes then suggest solutions.  Call today and let’s start planning!


Thanks for reading!


Dan Powell




Just like my website, nothing in this blog is intended as legal advice. If you need legal advice, contact an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. I am licensed to practice law in California.  Further, please remember that I speak in generalities in my blog (and on my website). There are so many different factors that can contribute and completely change the outcome that it would not be practical to discuss all of them here. This is why I speak in generalities. Thanks again for reading.


This document is for informational purposes only.  Nothing in this is to be considered legal advice.  Nothing in this shall create an attorney/client relationship, nor shall it create a confidential relationship.  If you need legal advice (in California), feel free to contact me or someone licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.  I assume no liability or responsibility for actions taken, or not taken, as a result of reading this information.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014 00:00

The Declaration of Independence

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The Declaration of Independence – a timeless work of art by the drafters, and a crime punishable by death for all involved

Hello and welcome to my blog. For this first “episode” I was wondering how to begin talking about wills, trusts, estate planning, and property rights. I figured that a bit of history may be a good way to get the ball rolling so-to-speak, so let us begin with a truly wonderful document, experiment, and – though at times dubious – beginning to something that had never been tried in the course of humankind.

The Declaration of Independence

The entire Declaration of Independence, among other documents, can be found at:

So why was the Declaration of Independence written?

For many years before the Declaration of Independence was written, the colonies were asking King George for redress of grievances. The King provided no help. The King was making the colonies help pay for the recent Seven Years’ War in England. At this time, the Magna Carta had long been in effect and had been imposed on the King of England (back in 1215) by the subjects and stated basically that not even the King could be above the law and take away certain rights of the people. The colonists felt the King was taking away these rights and asked for relief stating that they were free men. After about ten years with no relief provided by the King, the colonist turned to armed conflict with the political control of England.

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