Friday, December 15, 2006

Wiki for PA Uniform Trust Act

An article will appear in the Fall, 2006, issue of the Newsletter of the Real Property, Probate & Trust Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, by Daniel B. Evans entitled "A Wiki for the Pennsylvania Uniform Trust Code". That wiki can be found online here.

Dan was a pioneer, and remains a continuing leader, in the automation of estate & trust law practices. He is an accomplished lawyer in the Philadelphia area, the author of books published by the American Bar Association (referenced in his online resume), and the present Chair of the PBA's RPPT Section. His idea for a "wiki" sponsored by the Section on the important legal topic of trusts, and specifically the now-effective Pennsylvania Uniform Trust Act, is on the cutting-edge of legal resources.

With Dan's permission, I post his complete article. He explains the concept, the site's functioning, and its benefits. I note that the site already received 579 hits according to its counter.

Because the Uniform Trust Code is so new to Pennsylvania, and we will all be struggling to learn it and apply it over the coming months and years, I have created a “wiki” devoted to the Pennsylvania enactment of the Uniform Trust Code.

The information that is there now is rudimentary (a brief overview of the Act, links to the text of the Act, and some information about effective dates), but I hope to add more in the future, and I hope that others will add to it as well.

How will others add to the Web pages I have created? Well, that’s the nature of a wiki.

What is a Wiki?

“Wiki” is the Hawaiian word for “fast” or “quick,” and a “wiki” is a Web page (or group of Web pages) that is set up to be created and edited quickly, and by more than one person, so a wiki can be used for collaborative writing.

The most famous wiki is the Wikipedia, which just about anyone can edit at any time, and which has become one of the largest reference works in the world through nothing but volunteers writing (and editing) articles on subjects that they know something about.

Needless to say, collaboration is sometimes messy, and the system can be abused. If there are strong differences of opinion on a subject, there can be “editing wars” in which the text of a wiki can be changed back and forth hundreds of times within a few days (or even a few hours). And wikis can be vandalized by people without any interest in the subject matter of the wiki.

But those problems are usually the exception and not the rule.

Why a UTC Wiki?

The concept of a wiki seems well suited to the Pennsylvania UTC. It’s a new subject and many lawyers will be looking for both overviews of the new law and specific answers to specific problems they will encounter.

Meanwhile, many lawyers are already spending time writing (and lecturing) about the UTC, and many other lawyers have shown themselves willing to share their insights and experiences in forums like the probatetrust listserv. A wiki is a good way in which lawyers can raise new questions and other lawyers can present new answers, all the while creating a permanent, organized body of knowledge that will be available as a resource for other lawyers in the future.

And lawyers are also going to be responsible enough, and respectful enough of others, not to edit another lawyer’s words without good reason.

How to Use the Pa-UTC Wiki

Here’s how the Pa-UTC Wiki should work If you’re looking for information on the UTC, or looking for a specific answer to a specific problem, go to and see if the information you want is there.

If you don’t find the information you want, and you think the information should be there, edit the main page (or any other page you think is relevant) to add your question or a description of the information you think is needed.

If you’re looking for an answer to your question, and you see a question that no one else has answered, edit that page to add your answer.

If you learn something about the UTC that you would like to share, go to and edit an appropriate page (or create a new page) to explain what you’ve learned.

It’s an experiment. Let’s try it and see what happens.
I applaud Dan's creativity & boldness in suggesting the idea.