The Ecphorizer

Other People's Mail

Issue #68 (July 1987)

John H. DeMoully, Executive Secretary
California Law Revision Commission

I was glancing through the Annual Report for December 1986, and my eye landed on page 1834. Enclosed is a copy. Perhaps I am a "purist" but I know of no such word as "escrowee"... I realize that the word "escrowee" already appears as a part of Probate Code #82(c) effective July 1, 1987. Saying it doesn't make it so.

Charles G. Schulz (Don Quixote)
Attorney, Palo Alto, CA

Dear Senor Schulz-Quixote:

You have caught us out. The shameful story can now be told. After agonizing for months on the issue, a profoundly divided Commission adopted the language of the Uniform Probate Code, thus importing "escrowee" into California law in place of the noble "escrow holder" which appeared in former Probate Code Section 1138. The forces promoting uniformity thus triumphed over those seeking to uphold tradition and dead-hand control. Since then, we have been beset by second thoughts, misgivings, hindsight angst, and related uncertainties that have almost paralyzed us.

Like its relatives in the "-ee" family (and many of its cousins in the "-er" and "-or" families), "escrowee" looks rather sickly when the Klieg lights are turned on it. Call me a dreamer, but it was my hope that if enough people did say it, there was a chance that someday it would be so. I have not checked Uniform Laws Annotated lately to see if "escrowee" has been rejected by states that adopted the UPC, so I do not know if my naive wish has been dashed or still may come to fruition.

Should the opportunity arise for us to consider amendments to Section 82, you may rest assured that we will entertain pulling the plug on "escrowee" and replacing it with "escrow agent" or, perhaps, the Old French "escroue."

Stan G. Ulrich
Staff Counsel 

The CHARLES SCHULZ who tilts at the California Law Revision Commission in this month's "Other People's Mail" is a notable Palo Alto attorney and Sierra backpacker. By the way, the French verb escroquer, possibly the ancestor of "escrow," means to cheat or swindle. Take note, unwary homebuyers!

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