Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

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

Monday, April 18, 2016

2016 Society of American Law Teachers Teaching Conference Call for Papers

SaltPlease visit this call for panels and papers for the 2016 Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) Teaching Conference! 

Proposals are due by June 15, 2016.  They look forward to seeing you in Chicago this fall on Friday and Saturday, September 30 and October 1, 2016 at The John Marshall Law School, Chicago, Illinois.

April 18, 2016 in Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 29, 2016

University Of Arizona Law School Now Accepts GRE Scores For Admissions

TestFor decades, the LSAT has virtually been the only admissions test used by law schools when it comes to evaluating prospective students. The test has been praised for it's ability to predict first year success but has also been the target of withering attacks on the narrow focus of the skills being tested. In response to those complaints, the University of Arizona School of Law has decided to ditch their LSAT only policy and accept scores from the GRE, a test used primarily for non-law graduate schools. Arizona has stated that they have studies showing that the GRE is as good a predictor of law school success which allows them to use it under ABA accreditation rules. However, the school would be the only ABA accredited school in the nation to not rely on the LSAT which makes the results of this trial run important for other schools considering a change. It will be very interesting to see how this experiment turns out due to the implications it could have for law schools everywhere.

See Sara Randazzo, Move Over LSAT, Here Comes the GRE, The Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2016.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

February 29, 2016 in Current Events, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Increasing Scrutiny Placed On Private Museums

MuseumArt has often been viewed as a good investment opportunity by many investors. “In recent years, many wealthy individuals have sought to convert their personal art collections into private museums as a way of reducing taxes while retaining control of the property.” Tax experts and lawmakers have been placing an increasing amount of scrutiny on the tax-exempt status of many of the private museums in existence. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines dealing with the amount of public benefit that is sufficient to achieve preferable tax treatment is very vague. Because of how vague the standards are it is important for people to focus on the “details of operation” that establish the museum’s sufficient public benefit. “At the end of the year, your client can easily report the accomplishments on the entity’s annual information return (Form 990PF) as a statement of the entity’s work to achieve its public benefit.”

See Avery B. Armas and Jennifer M. Pagnillo, Private Museums Under Scrutiny, Wealth Management, February 11, 2016.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse for bringing this article to my attention.

February 11, 2016 in Estate Planning - Generally, Income Tax, Teaching, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Shocking News, Some High Schools Actually Teaching Relevant Life Skills

MoneyHigh schools have long been known to require courses that, on a deeper level, teach absolutely no valuable life skills to their students. But a new trend now has schools requiring students to take personal finance courses which teaches subjects ranging from managing bank accounts to retirement planning. In Virginia, schools have embraced the change with considerable enthusiasm from students since they are being taught information that has an undeniable and universal usefulness. In one wealthy district, some students were shocked when they learned it cost more than $75 to maintain children on a monthly basis which goes to show the extreme need to educate young people on basic financial realities. Let us hope programs such as these spread across the nation as basic financial literacy can have a huge affect on all of society as it makes the citizenry less susceptible to the vast number of pitfalls that a person can make when managing their money.

See Moriah Balingit, Personal-finance courses in Virginia teach teens to budget in the real world, Washington Post, November 1, 2015.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret for bringing this article to my attention.

November 5, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Article On Teaching Theory and Practice in Decedents’ Estates

ArticlePictureCamille M. Davidson (Professor, Charlotte School of Law) recently published an article entitled, Problems, Music, and Popular Culture: How I Teach Theory and Practice in Decedents’ Estates to Our Next Generation of Lawyers, 28 Quinnipiac Prob. L.J. 394-410 (2015). Provided below is an abstract of the article:

In this article, I outline the approaches that I use to reach large numbers of students and encourage active learning. I use visual aids, music, problems, and simulated legal activities to “show” rather than “tell” the classroom. My approach promotes rigor, but not fear. I attempt to make cold calling fun and I encourage active learning through simulated exercises and the use of popular culture references in the fact patterns. The students become team players in the classroom when I engage them with relevant stories from newspaper headlines or have them perform oral arguments using the lyrics of a song to identify legal concepts. Active participation helps students achieve “content mastery,” “higher-level thinking skills,” “professional skills,” and “[p]ositive attitude.” As Denise Knight states, “[f]ew instructors would quibble with the notion that promoting active participation helps students to think critically and to argue more effectively.” Part I of the essay reminds law professors that they are educators who teach law and Part II discusses the design of my course.

October 21, 2015 in Articles, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 16, 2015

New Podcast From Louisiana State University Law Review

ArticleLouisiana State University Law Review has begun a new podcast series in which the roles of the professors and students are reversed with the students calling in with question which put their profs. in the hotseat. In a recent segment entitled "Code Call," a student ask a professor about interdiction in regards to the estate sage of New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson.  The question begins at the 19 minute mark and can be found here.

Special thanks to Elizabeth Carter for bringing this podcast to my attention.

October 16, 2015 in Estate Planning - Generally, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Survey for Law Professors -- Popular Culture in the Classroom

The following is posted as a courtesy to Prof. Cynthia D. Bond of the John Marshall Law School:

Greetings Law Teacher Colleagues:  

I am working on an article this summer on uses of popular culture in the law school classroom.  I am defining popular culture broadly to include mass culture texts like movies, TV shows, popular music, images which circulate on the internet, etc, and also any current events that you may reference in the classroom which are not purely legal in nature (i.e. not simply a recent court decision). 

To support this article, I am doing a rather unscientific survey to get a sense of what law professors are doing in this area.  If you are a law professor and you use popular culture in your class, I would be most grateful if you could answer this quick, anonymous survey I have put together: 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QH3GBZK 

Thanks in advance for your time and have a wonderful rest of summer! 

Cynthia Bond
The John Marshall Law School
Chicago, IL

July 24, 2015 in Scholarship, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Southern California Universities In Battle Over Research Center Headhunting

Gavel 2The University of California San Diego and University of Southern California are feuding in court over allegations that USC conspired with a top Alzheimer researcher and leader of the UCSD research center to raid staff for a rival institute. The leader of the UCSD center is accused of telling staff that they would lose their jobs when research funding followed the researcher to his new position at USC. No court date has been set although it is likely a settlement will be arranged before any trial takes place.

See Jamie Ross, UC-San Diego Sues USC Over $100 Million Alzheimer's Grant, Courthouse News Service, July 7, 2015.

Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.

July 11, 2015 in Current Affairs, Current Events, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Article On Testamentary Proceedings in Spanish East Florida, 1783-1821

MC MirowM.C. Mirow (Professor of Law, Florida International University College of Law), recently published an article entitled, Testamentary Proceedings in Spanish East Florida, 1783-182, from Studies in Canon Law and Common Law in Honor of R. H. Helmholz, Page 281-301 (Troy L. Harris, ed., Berkeley: The Robbins Collection, 2015). Provided below is an abstract of the article:

The East Florida Papers in the Library of Congress reveal a great deal about law, legal institutions, legal practice, and legality in colonial Florida during the second Spanish period from 1783 to 1821. This contribution provides an initial study of the 372 testamentary proceedings related to 168 decedents recorded in these papers. It describes these cases and discusses the dossier of one case to illustrate the administrative and legal work done by Spanish officials to distribute a decedent's property.

Proceedings include individual claims for debts against estates; sets of documents related to the administration of estates such as wills, inventories, birth records, and marriage records; and a variety of petitions dealing with administration and the distribution of property. The materials provide a window into will making, family life and structure, commerce, women, and accidental and suspicious deaths. Numerous petitions sought the disposition, transfer, and manumission of slaves. The contribution concludes with a description and analysis of the documents related to the estate of Pedro Dimarache, a Corsican carpenter who died testate in St. Augustine in 1792.

June 14, 2015 in Articles, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Article on Bringing Emotion and Relevance to the Contemporary Trusts and Estates Course

GazurWayne M. Gazur (Colorado), recently published an article entitled, The White Whale: Bringing Emotion and Relevance to the Contemporary Trusts and Estates Course, 58 St. Louis U. L.J. 785 (2014). Provided below is the introduction of the article:

The title of this Essay is intended to evoke two conflicting interpretations at the outset. According to one plausible perspective, the contemporary Trusts and Estates course remains a highly doctrinal property course, largely devoid of emotional appeal for most students. Further, as discussed below, it is also increasingly less relevant to the planning needs of most potential clients. Consequently, a teacher’s efforts to bring emotion and relevance to the course might seem to be an unsuccessful, frustrating quest much like Ahab’s search for the elusive white whale, Moby Dick.1

I try to develop a different perspective in my teaching of the course, and I establish that tone on the first day of class with Ishmael’s moving account of his will execution ceremony.2 This human, client-centered view of trusts and estates is increasingly a part of my course, enriching the doctrinal material. In terms of relevance, I believe that the Trusts and Estates course can still remain so, even amidst the profound changes to the manner in which many Americans transfer their wealth up on death and the increasing irrelevance of federal wealth transfer taxation.

September 25, 2014 in Articles, Estate Planning - Generally, Teaching | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)