Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Article Review: Teaching Trusts and Estates

TeachingPhyllis C. Taite has written a review on Robert H. Sitkoff’s recent article entitled, Trusts and Estates: Implementing Freedom of Disposition, 58 St. Louis U.L.J. 643 (Forthcoming, 2014).  Provided below is an introduction to the review:

Professor Robert Sitkoff’s article, Trusts and Estates: Implementing Freedom of Disposition, provides practical information and addresses major themes for professors teaching trusts and estates including intestacy, wills, trusts and planning for incapacity. It is a wonderful primer for professors and students new to the area of estates and trusts. For the more seasoned professors, Professor Sitkoff provides policy questions that will certainly provide an opportunity for healthy debates amongst the students. There are only a handful of articles that explicitly address trusts and estates pedagogy; this article does not simply summarize the curriculum, but rather it encourages law faculty to think in a big picture way about the overarching issues. As such, it is an important contribution to the scholarly literature.

For the rest of the favorable review, see Phyllis C. Tate, Teaching Trusts and Estates, JOTWELL, Aug. 8, 2014.  

Special thanks to Paul L. Caron (Pepperdine University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.

August 13, 2014 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Teaching, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Article on Taxes and Estate Planning


Barry Cushman (Notre Dame Law School) recently published an article entitled, Tax Recognition, St. Louis University Law Journal, Vol. 58, p. 825, 2014.  Provided below is the abstract from SSRN:

This article was prepared for the St. Louis University Law Journal’s “Teaching Trusts & Estates” issue. Many law students take a course in Trusts & Estates, but comparatively few enroll in a class devoted to the federal wealth transfer taxes. For most law students, the Trusts & Estates course provides the only opportunity for exposure to some of the basic features of the estate tax, the gift tax, the generation-skipping transfer tax, and some related features of the income tax. The coverage demands of the typical Trusts & Estates course do not allow for intensive discussion of these issues, but there are numerous opportunities to introduce relevant tax considerations while teaching the substantive law of wills and trusts. Using the Dukeminier & Sitkoff casebook as an example, this article explores the opportunities for interstitial recognition of the tax issues often lying just beneath the surface of private law disputes. Seizing the opportunities that these cases present to introduce some basic tax concepts and planning strategies can alert students to simple methods of tax savings and help them to avoid costly potential estate planning errors.

April 18, 2014 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax, Gift Tax, Income Tax, Teaching, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Article on Teaching Trusts and Estates with King Lear


Karen E. Boxx (University of Washington School of Law) recently published an article entitled, Teaching Shakespeare in the Classroom: How an Annual Student Production of King Lear Adds Dimension to Teaching Trusts and Estates, St. Louis University Law Journal, Vol. 58, No. 3, pp. 751-65, 2014.  Provided below is the abstract from SSRN:

King Lear is the archetypal story of the tension an difficulties in parent-child and sibling relationships. In a Trusts and Estates class, it reinforces the message that those relationships are the starting point and bedrock of this body of law and the vast system of rules that has been developed to resolve these conflicts.

This Article first summarizes the plot of King Lear and then describes the process I use to get the play produced by student volunteers. It then sets forth some of the estate planning and lawyering lessons King Lear presents and describes some of the skills I think the play production helps develop. Finally, the Article discusses the less traditional benefits from holding an in-class performance of a play.

This Article is part of the St. Louis Law Journal's annual teaching issue, which is devoted to Trusts and Estates in 2014.

April 17, 2014 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Teaching, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Article on Teaching Uniform Estate Law


Thomas P. Gallanis (University of Iowa College of Law) recently published an article entitled, Trusts and Estates: Teaching Uniform Law, 58 St. Louis U. L. J. 761 (2014).  Provided below is the abstract from SSRN:

The law school course in Trusts and Estates provides a valuable opportunity for students to gain a deeper understanding of the processes and products of one of the principal law-reform organizations in the United States: the Uniform Law Commission, also known as the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. Within the law school curriculum, the course in Trusts and Estates is well suited for this purpose because the Uniform Law Commission has been and will continue to be highly active and influential in the field of trust and estate law. This essay, prepared for a symposium issue of the St. Louis University Law Journal on "Teaching Trusts and Estates," proceeds in six main parts. Part I provides background on the Uniform Law Commission. Part II highlights the many uniform acts in the field of trusts and estates. Part III introduces the Joint Editorial Board for Uniform Trust and Estate Acts and its role in the on-going monitoring and updating of uniform acts in this area of the law. Part IV summarizes the process by which uniform laws are drafted, approved, promulgated, and enacted. Part V examines aspects of the structure of uniform laws which are important for purposes of law school teaching. Part VI discusses the procedures for updating and amending uniform laws. A brief conclusion follows.

April 13, 2014 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Teaching, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Article on Teaching Trusts and Estates


Jerome Borison (University of Denver Sturm College of Law), Naomi Cahn (George Washington University - Law School), Susan N. Gary (University of Oregon - School of Law), and Paula A. Monopoli (University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law) recently published an article entitled, Contemporary Trusts and Estates – An Experiential Approach, Saint Louis University Law Journal, v. 58, 2014, p. 727-738.  Provided below is the abstract from SSRN:

In this essay in a special issue dedicated to teaching trusts and estates, the co-authors of Contemporary Trusts & Estates: An Experiential Approach (2d. ed. Aspen 2014) reflect on how the teaching of trusts and estates can integrate policy, practice, doctrine, and centuries of tradition. They describe the genesis of their problem-based casebook and the influence of the Carnegie Report on their choice of pedagogic framework. Each of the co-authors embraced the fundamental principles advocated by the Carnegie Report, which counsels that legal education should integrate “theoretical and practical legal knowledge and professional identity.” This essay goes on to outline how the book incorporates a problem-based methodology as well as an innovative choice of ordering the chapters that tracks the chronological path of estate planning, addressing the lifetime use of trusts first, followed by issues of will validity and interpretation. Drafting exercises complement the problems as well as traditional cases that illuminate theory and practice. With chapters on planning for disability, the federal estate and gift tax, estate administration and charitable trusts as well as basic doctrine on intestacy, wills and trusts, the book reflects the contemporary challenges addressed by trusts and estates lawyers. The co-authors have found that the book’s innovative approach engages students in a way that makes the study of trusts and estates relevant and students practice-aware.

This article is part of the Journal's annual Teaching Issue, "created as a forum for scholars, judges, practitioners and students to discuss methods for the effective teaching and learning of particular law school courses. With the constant evolution of legal topics and instructional resource options, this issue provides a resource for professors, deans, and anyone interested in the continued development and improvement of legal education."

April 8, 2014 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Teaching, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Article on Teaching Trusts and Estates


If you would like to know more about my basic teaching philosophy and the general pedagogical techniques I employ to make Trusts and Estates topics both fun and relevant, please read my article, Who Said Learning Trusts and Estates Can’t Be Fun?, St. Louis University Law Journal, Vol. 58, p. 713, 2014.  Provided below is the abstract from SSRN:

From even before their first day of law school, Texas Tech University School of Law students have the opportunity to appreciate the importance of the estate planning area and to understand that it can be both an enjoyable and rewarding area of law in which to practice. During orientation, which takes place the week before classes start, new students participate in full-day programs centered on a particular area of practice either of their own choosing or assigned by the administration. For the 2013 entering class, I was in charge of two full-day Estate Planning Tracks with a total of approximately thirty-five entering students.

As their legal education continues, students have additional exposure, some mandatory and some optional, to estate planning topics. In my first year required Property course, I spend several days reviewing the basic principles of intestate succession and wills. Texas Tech then requires all students to complete a four-credit introductory course entitled Wills and Trusts as a condition of graduation during their second or third year. Students desiring a more sophisticated treatment may take courses such as Estate Planning, Texas Estate Administration, Guardianship, Estate and Gift Tax, Elder Law, and Marital Property. Students may also compete for a coveted position as an editor for the Estate Planning and Community Property Law Journal that Texas Tech publishes.

This Article reveals my basic teaching philosophy and the general pedagogical techniques I employ to make Trusts and Estates topics both fun and relevant. I will then share with you the specific tools I use when teaching the introductory course as well as the advanced courses such as Estate Planning and Texas Estate Administration. It is my hope that you may be able to gain insight from my approach to enhance your own teaching and the experience you provide to your students.

April 1, 2014 in Articles, Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Teaching, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Article on Teaching Wills and Trusts


Adam J. Hirsch (University of San Diego) recently published an article entitled, Teaching Wills and Trusts: The Jurisdictional Problem, St. Louis University Law Journal, Vol. 58, No. 3 (2014).  Provided below is the abstract from SSRN:

In this essay, written for the teaching issue of the SLU Law Journal, I address the problem of how best to focus a course in Wills and Trusts in light of the fact that the applicable rules vary widely from state to state. This legal heterogeneity makes generalization about the “laws” of inheritance difficult. I argue against confining class presentations either to local state law, which is unacceptably parochial, or to the model laws found in the Uniform Acts and Restatements, whose influence on actual law has been limited. I advocate instead an approach that endeavors to communicate to students the richness of alternative rules that different states have developed, as a vehicle for encouraging students to think creatively about the public policy of those rules, and about the strengths and weaknesses of the alternative approaches that are currently extant.

March 16, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Teaching, Trusts, Wills | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Suffolk Law Offering Joint Degree in Tax LLM


Suffolk University Law School is launching a master of laws (LLM) program in taxation that will allow students to receive an LLM and juris doctor (JD) in the same amount of time it takes to receive a JD.

Suffolk will be the first law school in New England to offer a joint degree in tax LLM.  Compared to the JD program, the only additional time spent would be in an intensive 12-credit, 10-week summer program beginning May 2015.  Students would also have to take eight credits of required tax courses as well as six credits of tax electives. 

March 6, 2014 in Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Book on Community Property

Community propertyCharlotte Goldberg recently published a book entitled, Community Property, (August 2013).  Provided below is a description of the book from Aspen Law:

With a unique, comparative approach and a problem-based pedagogy, Community Property helps students grasp the different ways each community property state address issues. The book follows a hypothetical couple, presenting issues such as premarital agreements, separate property business, divorce, and the like, and shows how each of the nine community property states would analyze the problem with statutes and representative cases. Interesting, accessible, contemporary cases illustrate important principles, and helpful charts in every chapter summarize how each community property state treats the concepts. Author Charlotte Goldberg has over thirty years of teaching experience and writing expertise; she is the author of the successful Examples & Explanations: California Community Property, as well as numerous law review articles on family law and marital property. Community Property’s manageable length makes it perfect for two-credit courses. Well-crafted Problems and Discussion Questions help students test their knowledge and facilitate class discussion, and a comprehensive Teachers Manual includes answers to questions and problems as well as teaching suggestions.

February 21, 2014 in Books, Books - For Practitioners, Books - For the Classroom, New Cases, New Legislation, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

South Carolina Law Review Symposium


The South Carolina Law Review is hosting a symposium entitled, On Task?: Expanding the Boundaries of Legal Education, on February 27-28, 2014, at the University of South Carolina School of Law.  Provided below is a description of this event:

The event will focus on a host of issues regarding how the market for legal services delivery continues to evolve, as well as the responses and challenges associated with that evolution.  Our distinguished presenters, panelists, and authors are focusing on matters such as the expectations of clients and firms in today’s market, changes within and outside of the JD curriculum, and new platforms in legal services delivery, among other topics.

The Symposium will begin Thursday, February 27 at the University of South Carolina School of Law with a panel addressing ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education Report.  The first day will conclude with a keynote address by James R. Silkenat. Currently serving as President of the American Bar Association, Mr. Silkenat has an illustrious record of service.  He was a member of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession, a member of the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, and Co-Chair of the ABA Solo and Small Firm Leadership Coalition.  He will undoubtedly provide those in attendance with unique insight into how the legal curriculum and profession can catch up to, and keep pace with, changes in the market for legal services delivery.

Friday, February, 28 will consist of presentations and panels addressing topics that are relevant to how law schools, and the legal academy more generally, can better prepare law students to enter the profession.  Barbara Madsen, Chief Justice of the Washington Supreme Court, will deliver the Luncheon Keynote focused on limited licensing.  The additional presentations and panels will also focus on ways in which lawyers, as well as law firms, can keep up with the rapidly evolving marketplace.  The Symposium will offer attendees 9.25 hours of CLE credit, including 3.25 hours of ethics credit.  Please note that the South Carolina Commission on CLE & Specialization has extended their postmark deadline until March 3, 2014 to accommodate those attending the event. 

February 19, 2014 in Conferences & CLE, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)