Health, Education, Maintenance and Support: the four “chosen words” that make up the “ascertainable standard.” Sometimes abbreviated as HEMS, the ascertainable standard is undeniably a creature of tax law,1 though it must also operate in the realm of trust. This dichotomy is central to the internal conflict that permeates HEMS and, in fact, defines it. At its core, the ascertainable standard is a line drawn by Congress that differentiates between a beneficiary/trustee2 with a general power ...

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