Wills & Trusts
This course introduces the law of wills, trusts, gifts, and intestate succession. The goal is to prepare students for the practice of law in a field of great importance to lawyers. Toward this end, students will study the execution and revocation of wills, use of will substitutes, function of trusts in the transmission of wealth during life and at death, and rules governing the administration of estates and trusts.
Because the law of wills and trusts is primarily statutory, we will spend time reading statutes, considering what they mean and how they work together. Students will look at contemporary families and discuss how to advise clients in different relationships and at different stages of their lives. In addition, students will look at the impact of life events—such as marriage, divorce, adoption, civil union, and incapacity—on the client’s ownership, control, and transfer of property, and on the client’s estate planning needs. Students will also look at the lawyer’s role as a representative of different types of clients—estate planning clients, trustees, personal representatives, and claimants against an estate. In addition, students will look at professionalism and ethics. Assessment in the course primarily will be based on two or three short papers.