Trusts and Estates
Some students are attracted by the prospect of working with individual clients and counseling them on wealth transfers and related family issues. These students see themselves in a less confrontational, more constructive practice, assisting individuals to achieve goals for themselves, their families, and their charitable beneficiaries. If you fit in this category, you may find that a trusts and estates practice in both large and small firms can offer somewhat greater flexibility in work schedules, as well as the satisfaction of extensive personal contact with clients.
The ideal sequence of electives would be to begin with Decedents' Estates, followed by Estate & Gift Taxation, and concluding with an Estate Planning course or seminar.
Decedents' Estates. Here you will learn the ways in which property passes under a will, outside the will, or by intestacy. Coverage is given to trusts, co-tenancies, life insurance, other contractual arrangements, and powers of appointment. You will also study the restrictions which law and public policy place on the disposition of wealth, such as the right of a spouse to share in a deceased spouse's estate. Finally, the course will deal with the process of administering estates and trusts.
Estate & Gift Taxation. This second course is a study of how various wealth transfers and transactions are subject to the federal gift, estate, and generation-skipping transfer taxes. You will explore policy issues, and be introduced to basic estate planning considerations. Taxation I is a recommended prior course.
Estate Planning Course or Seminar. Here you will apply the principles learned in the earlier courses by working through a variety of planning techniques. You will actually plan an estate and prepare the documentation to implement that plan. Emphasis will be placed on interviewing and interacting with clients, as well as ethical issues. It is strongly recommended that you take Decedents' Estates, Estate & Gift Taxation, and Taxation I before taking Estate Planning. Professor Abell requires students to have taken Estate & Gift Taxation before enrolling in his estate planning seminar.
If you wish to specialize in this area, you may consider enrolling in related courses that would complement the core courses. For example, basic knowledge of income taxation of individuals, corporations, trusts, and estates can be very useful to an estate planner. Many clients wish to implement philanthropic objectives, so that a familiarity with charitable organizations is very helpful. 401(k) plans, IRAs, and other retirement plans make up much of the wealth of many clients, and it is important to understand some of the unique aspects of such plans. Thus, Taxation I and Taxation II, as well as the courses in Advanced Private Wealth Planning Seminar (graduate), and Retirement Income: Taxation and Regulation would be relevant. Finally, you will want to be thoroughly familiar with the kinds of business interests and entities that your client will own; thus, Corporations, Business Planning, and other similar courses would be helpful electives.
LL.M Seminar | 4 credit hours
This course will provide students with a solid grounding in advanced estate-planning techniques and help them build the drafting and client-relations skills necessary to develop and implement a comprehensive estate plan. This course is required for the Certificate of Study in Estate Planning.
The course will be structured in two modules. The first module will introduce students to technical tax regimes (such as the generation-skipping transfer tax) and more complex planning scenarios. Topics covered will include philanthropy and private wealth planning; the role in estate planning of private foundations, public charities, and supporting organizations; charitable giving techniques; planning for family controlled businesses; planning for highly-compensated individuals; and international aspects of private wealth planning.
The second module will consist of a hands-on exercise in developing, drafting, and executing a complex estate plan. Working from a comprehensive fact pattern, students will make in-class presentations about the problem and participate in the development of the estate plan by drafting documents and by commenting on drafts prepared by others. These documents may include legal memoranda, client communications, and analysis of planning alternatives, as well as the will, trust instruments, and organizational documents for charitable entities.
Prerequisite: Federal Income Taxation (formerly Taxation I), Decedents’ Estates or equivalent, or Wills & Trusts; Income Taxation of Trusts and Estates; Estate and Gift Tax; Special Topics in Transfer Tax.
Note: This course is open to J.D. students by professor permission. Interested students should contact Ellis Duncan via email at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than August 1, 2017 for permission to take this class.
LL.M Course (cross-listed) | 2 credit hours
Studies the treatment of charities and other nonprofit organizations, including private foundations, churches, hospitals, trade associations, social clubs, and political organizations under the federal income tax law. Among the topics covered are the characteristics of the various classes of exempt organizations, the legislative policies underlying their exemption from tax, problems associated with qualification for and retention of exemption, joint ventures, the unrelated business income tax including corporate sponsorship, the declaratory judgment remedy, implications of racial discrimination, international activities and the treatment of lobbying and political expenditures.
Prerequisite: Federal Income Taxation (formerly Taxation I).
Note: DISTANCE STUDENTS REGISTER FOR CRN#: 13669. This course is open to both on campus and distance students. However, only students enrolled in the Executive LL.M. in Taxation, the Executive LL.M. in Securities & Financial Regulation, and the MSL programs may take this course on a distance basis. All J.D. students and resident LL.M. students may not enroll in this course on a distance basis.