James P. Spica

Southfield Office

26211 Central Park Blvd

Suite 200

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James P. Spica

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About Jim

Jim is both a practitioner and a scholar. His private client practice focuses on estate planning for high net worth individuals. But much of his practice is devoted to representing and advising other professionals and institutions, in Michigan and elsewhere, with respect to complex trust planning and litigation. Among his professional colleagues, Jim is also recognized for his accomplishments in developing trust law, nationally as a Uniform Law Commissioner and American Bar Association (ABA) Advisor to the ULC (assigned to drafting committees for the Uniform Directed Trust Act, the Uniform Fiduciary Income and Principal Act, and the ULC’s Conflict of Laws in Trusts and Estates project) and in Michigan as the principal author of the state’s rule against perpetuities reform and its undisclosed trusts, divided trusteeships, and trust decanting statutes.

Jim’s most recent article, “Power Tools for Choice of Law on Trust Validity,” which will appear in the ABA’s Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal’s Summer 2024 issue, is a sequel to his contribution to the Tulane/American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) Symposium on Conflict of Laws in Trusts and Estates published by the Tulane Law Review in 2023. “Power Tools” is Jim’s fourth article on the conflict-of-laws treatment of powers of appointment. But not all of his recent scholarship concerns that subject: Jim’s “Settlor-Authorized Fiduciary Indifference to Trust Purposes and the Interests of Beneficiaries under the Uniform Trust Code”—which appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of the Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Journal and, in abbreviated form, in a special 2019 issue of the ACTEC Law Journal celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Uniform Trust Code—was the subject of a panel discussion in the State Laws Committee at the 2021 ACTEC Annual Meeting.

Jim is currently Chairperson of the Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan. He is a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan, his first law degree from the University of Detroit, and an LL.M. (in Taxation) from New York University. He clerked for Hon. Richard C. Wilbur on the United States Tax Court (1985) and taught as an Assistant/Associate Professor of Law at the University of Detroit Mercy (1989–2000, tenured 1996). Jim practices out of the C&T Southfield office.

Professional Recognition and Involvement

  • National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (Uniform Law Commission)
    • Michigan Commissioner (appointed by the State’s bipartisan Legislative Council), 2016–Present
    • Michigan Legislative Liaison, 2020–Present
    • Drafting Committee on Conflict of Laws in Trusts and Estates Act, 2020–Present
    • Drafting Committee on Fundraising through Public Appeals Act, 2018–Present
    • Drafting Committee on Fiduciary Income and Principal Act, 2017–2018
  • Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC)
    • Legal Education Committee, 2021–Present
    • State Laws Committee, 2014–2016, 2021–Present
  • Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation
  • American Bar Association: ABA Advisor, Uniform Law Commission Uniform Directed Trust Drafting Committee, 2014–2016
  • Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan
    • Current Chairperson, “From the Chairperson,” 43 Mich. Prob. & Est. Plan. J., no. 1, 2023, at 1, 1–4
    • Council Member, 2006-2015, 2019–Present
    • Uniform Law Commission Liaison, 2017–Present
    • Chair, Uniform Community Property Disposition at Death Act Committee, 2022–Present
    • Chair, Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act Committee, 2022–Present
    • Chair, Fiduciary Income, and Principal Act Committee,2018–Present
    • Co-Chair, Nonbanking Entity Trust Powers Committee, 2019–Present
    • Special Advisor, Electronic Wills Committee, 2018–Present
    • Chair, Divided and Directed Trusteeship Committee, 2017–2019
    • Chair, Trust Decanting Legislation Committee, 2010–2012
    • Member, Michigan Trust Code Drafting Committee, 2008–2011
  • Michigan Institute of Continuing Legal Education, Probate and Estate Planning Advisory Board
  • Best Lawyers in America
    • Trust & Estates, 2009–Present
    • Litigation – Trusts & Estates, 2012–Present
    • The Best Lawyers in America “2023 Detroit Lawyer of the Year – Trusts and Estates”
    • The Best Lawyers in America “2023 Detroit Lawyer of the Year – Litigation – Trusts and Estates”
    • The Best Lawyers in America “2019 Detroit Lawyer of the Year – Litigation – Trusts and Estates”
  • Leading Lawyers
    • Charter Member, Leading Lawyers Advisor Board, 2013
    • Trust, Will & Estate Planning Law, 2013–Present
    • Tax Law: Individual, 2018–Present
    • Leading Lawyers “Top 10 Trust, Will & Estate Planning – Michigan Edition 2020”
  • Michigan Super Lawyers, 2010–Present
  • “Top Ranked” Chambers High Net Worth (HNW) Guide 2017–Present
  • Martindale-Hubbell, AV Preeminent rating, the highest possible Peer Review Rating
  • DBusiness Top Lawyers, 2014–Present

Community Involvement

  • American Trust for the British Library, Board of Trustees, 2016–Present
  • William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan, Clements Associates Board of Governors,  2009–Present
  • Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Legal/Financial Network Advisory Committee, 2007–Present
  • Detroit Institute of Arts, Tannahill Council, 2008–Present
  • Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Planned Giving Council, 2015–Present
  • Interlochen Center for the Arts
    • Trustee Emeritus, 2015–Present
    • Board of Trustees, 2006–2015


“Power Tools for Choice of Law on Trust Validity”

Featuring ACTEC Fellow James P. Spica

(Recorded November 2023)

Link to Podcast – http://actecfoundation.org/podcasts/powers-tools-for-choice-of-law-on-trust-validity/


Selected Publications

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