Course Details

Estates, Trusts and Gifts: The Dead Hand

Every society has established rules and laws for the preservation and transfer of wealth from generation to generation. In the United States this is accomplished through the interaction of the United States tax code with state laws of inheritance, family structure, and the laws and regulations governing the creation of not for profit institutions, such as foundations, museums, universities and other repositories of the large gifts transferred by wealthy families and individuals before and after death. The English common law has been very influential in establishing these rules and laws, and there is a great deal of state by state variation. This seminar will be an introduction to this complex and rich set of overlapping laws, federal and state, governing inheritance, gifts, and intergenerational transfers, with a special emphasis upon transfers to institutions such as museums and universities. Lawyers with expertise in the area, will be invited as guests, along with professional persons responsible for handling such matters, and the various legal disputes and law suits which arise. The basic principles of estates and trusts will be set out at the beginning of the semester with a standard textbook. The students will then begin to do research on their chosen topics in state or federal law. The course offers an opportunity for students to educate themselves about the law of a particular state in the important area of Estates and Trusts, and to familiarize themselves with relevant parts and proposed changes to the United States tax code and state laws. Each student will, with the consent and guidance of the instructor, decide upon an individual research and writing topic, the result being a final paper of approximately 20 pages. Topic identification, and preliminary outlines and drafts will be discussed with the instructor and in class throughout the semester. The final set of papers will be collected into a Final Report with all the student research papers. This printed Report will be distributed to all students, to class guests, and to interested members of the law school community. Credit: three hours. Satisfies the research writing requirement. Enrollment limited to 20 students. Grading will be based upon class attendance and participation, upon completion of short reading and writing assignments, and on the quality of the Final Paper.

Catalog Number: PPTYTORT 689
Additional Course Information: Research Writing


Course History

Fall 2017
Title: Estates, Trusts and Gifts: The Dead Hand
Faculty: Bienen, Leigh B. (courses | profile)
Section: 1     Credits: 3.0
Capacity: 20     Actual: 6