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Drye v. United States

United States Supreme Court
528 U.S. 49 (1999)


Rohn F. Drye, Jr. ran up a bill of $325,000 for unpaid taxes and the Internal Revenue Service filed tax liens against all of his “property and rights to property.” When his mother, Irma Deliah Drye, died intestate, he disclaimed his inheritance as sole heir to her intestate estate of $233,000 to shield his inheritance from the federal tax liens. Pursuant to the state disclaimer law, which treated a disclaiming heir as having predeceased the decedent, Drye’s interest passed to his daughter, Theresa, as though he had predeceased his mother. Theresa placed the inherited funds in a trust of which she and her parents were the beneficiaries. The trust was spendthrift, i.e., structured to protect the assets of the trust from creditors of its beneficiaries. On appeal to the United States Supreme Court, Drye argued that consistent with state law, which he argued was controlling, his interest in his mother’s estate should pass to his daughter free of the tax liens.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Ginsburg, J.)

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