This law school casebook is designed to provide the student with a comprehensive review of the estate planning process. The book begins by placing estate planning in perspective, that is, what estate planning encompasses, why it should be done, and the reasons so many people forego it. Because estate planning requires many documents, the introductory chapter includes an overview of the drafting process. The student may apply this knowledge when completing the drafting exercises provided throughout the book.
Part One focuses on the law applicable to estate planning beginning with a review of the introductory estates, wills, and trusts course that most students will have taken as a prerequisite to estate planning. Do not dismiss this chapter as merely being repetitive of other courses because the materials stress how to deal with these topics in the broader estate planning context. Because there are many ways to dispose of property other than by a will or via intestacy, the next chapter focuses on probate avoidance techniques such as inter vivos gifts, joint tenancies, multiple-party accounts, and life insurance. Coverage of tax planning comes next. The tax chapter introduces estate and gift tax concepts assuming the student has little or no prior exposure to tax matters; it is not intended as a substitute for a specialized course in wealth transfer taxation. The next three chapters cover planning for disability and the physical aspects of death. If the likelihood of disability and the inevitability of death are not carefully anticipated, there may be no estate left to pass to the decedent’s intended beneficiaries.
Part Two concentrates on the estate planning practice such as client contact and the practical problems that arise including ethical considerations, the potential of malpractice, will contest avoidance techniques, and the additional concerns that are raised when a client has a special circumstance (e.g., minor child, creditors to avoid, desire to control property in perpetuity, property in another jurisdiction, or marital problems). Because an estate plan fails if the documents are not properly prepared, executed, preserved, and reviewed, the next chapter covers these matters. The book concludes with a discussion of estate administration, i.e., how the at-death portion of the estate plan is put into action after the client dies.
If you detect any problems with this book or have suggestions for future editions, I would greatly appreciate your sharing them with me. Click here to send me an e-mail message.