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Wills and Trust Law
University of Dayton School of Law
Searcy, E. Dale

Introduction to Wills
Probate Process à Lesson #1
·         Functions of Probate
·         Introduction to Estates
·         Probate Process Defined
·         Not Subject to Probate
·         Personal Representative
·         Criticisms of Probate Process
·         Who is served by the probate process?
·         Timing of Estate
·         The UPC Generally
Fiduciary Administration
·         Personal Representatives
·         Guardians and Conservators
Surviving Spouses and Heirs à Lesson #2
·         Basics
·         Simultaneous Death of Spouses
·         Death
·         Gestational Heirs
Spousal Shares
·         Introduction
·         Children
·         Jurisdictions
·         Marital Deduction
Representation Among Descendants à From Lesson #3
·         Basics
·         Representation Generally
·         Various Systems of Representation
o    Per Stirpes System
·         Computation of Shares
·         Meaning of “Representation”
·         Share of Heirs other Than Surviving Spouse
·         Meaning of “Descendant”
Parents and Their Issue à From Lesson #4
·         General Rule
·         Basics
·         Other Relatives
·         Rearranging Intestate Succession
·         Disclaimers
Advancements and Related Doctrines à From Lesson #5
·         Advancements
·         Negative Wills
·         Adoption
Will Execution à Formal Requirements à From Lesson #6
·         Introduction
o    Substantial Compliance Doctrine
o    Strict Compliance Doctrine
o    Validity and Statutory Formalities
·         Writing Requirement
·         Signature Requirement
o    General Rule à All wills must be signed
o    Form and Position of Signature
·         Attestation Clauses and Witnesses à From Lesson #7
o    Introduction
o    Witnesses Generally
o    Self Proved Wills
·         Unattested Wills – Formalities à From Lesson #8
o    Introduction
o    Nuncupative (Oral) Wills
o    Holographic (Handwritten) Wills
·         Inter Vivos Gifts
o    Introduction
o    Property Types
o    Delivery
o    Testamentary Transfers
·         Testamentary Capacity à From Lesson #9
o    Requirements
o    Client’s Possible Future Incapacity à L. # 26
§ Durable Power of Attorney
§ Health Care Decision Making
·         Living Wills
·         Health Care and DPOA
o    Disinheritance and the Naturalness of a Will
o    Undue Influence
o    Fraud
o    Tortious Interference à From Lesson #10
o    Incorporation by Reference
o    Codicils and Republication
o    Acts of Independent Significance
Revocation of a Will à From Lesson #11
·         Introduction
·         Revocation by Instrument
·         Revocation by Physical Act
·         Revocation by Changes in Circumstances à Lesson #12
·         Revival of a Will
o    Introduction
o    UPC View
o    Dependent Relative Revocation (DRR)à L. #13
·         Ademption, Abatement, and Lapse
o    Ademption à From Lesson #14
o    Abatement à From Lesson #15
o    Tax Apportionment
o    Exoneration
·         Involuntary Transfers
·         Accessions à (also) From Lesson #14
Spouse’s Elective Share à From Lesson #16
·         Introduction
·         Elective Shares
·         Other Benefits Conferred on Spouse
·         Making the Election
·         Disinheritance of a Spouse
Trusts à From Lesson #17/Handout
·         Introduction to Trusts
o    Terms and Definitions
o    A Trust is an Instrument..
o    The Two Halves of Ownership
o    Fiduciary Relationship/Nature of a Trust
o    More About Trust Property
o    More About Trust Parties
o    Rights and Duties Created by a Trust
o    Requirement of Corpus
o    Death of a Trustee
·         Creating Express Trusts
o    Requirements of a valid private trust
o    “Express Trusts”
o    Methods of Trust Creation
o    Expression of Trust Intent
o    Executors and Trustees
o    Agents and Trustees
o    Guardians and Trustees
o    Termination or Modification of a Trust
o    Trustee à Prudent Investor Rule à L. #25
·         Revocable Trusts and Spendthrift Provisions à L. # 18
o    Revocable Trusts
§ Testamentary v. Inter Vivos Trusts
o    Pourover Estates à From Lesson #23
o    Spendthrift Provisions and Trusts
§ Spendthrift Provisions
§ Spendthrift Trusts
§ Exceptions à From Lesson #21
·         Discretionary and Support Trusts à From Lesson #19
o    Discretionary Trusts
§ Introduction
§ Administrative Discretion
§ Fiduciary Discretion
§ Continuum of Discretionary Trusts
§ Abuse of Discretion
§ Inalienability
o    Support Trusts
o    Tax Classifications
·         Constructive and Resulting Trusts à From Lesson #27
·         Powers of Appointment à From Lesson #20
·         Offshore Asset Protection Trusts (OAPTs) à L. #21
Reformation of Documents à From Lesson #22
·         Introduction
·         Mistake and Ambiguity
Anti-Lapse à From Lesson #24
·         Introduction
·         Anti-Lapse Statutes Generally
·         Class Gifts and Anti-Lapse
·         Anti-Lapse and Trusts
Minorsà From Lesson #28
·         Introduction
·         The UTMA
·         The UTCA à N.B., Not on Exam!
End. (Twenty-eight Lessons Total.)
Introduction to Wills
o   Wills (and Trusts) have changed dramatically over t

tial Book: “How to Avoid Probate!” à heavily influential, negative towards probate
§ Changed the way that probate was handled
§ Popularized the idea of avoiding probate
·         Made it a near public obsession
§ Book said that probate was terrible (costly, time consuming, public)
·         Easy to avoid
·         Should be avoided
·         Book suggested:
o   Set up property in Joint Tenancy
§ Ex. If A owns shares of stock in his name and has a will leaving everything to B, the shares are subject to probate, and B will get them
§ But…If A owns shares of stock in JTWROS with C, and A has a will leaving everything to B, the shares are not subject to probate, and go right to C
§ Joint Tenancy therefore is a probate avoidance tool
o   Set up Revocable/Inter Vivos Trusts
§ 99% of clients who go to lawyer in Ohio for estate planning use this to avoid probate
§ Basically, this is a trust which is funded during the lifetime of the Settlor (Trust maker) and everything in the trust avoids probate, and goes right to the trustee (who holds legal title) for the benefit of the beneficiaries (who hold equitable title)
·         More on this later under Trust section!
o   Invest in Life Insurance
§ “Credit Life Insurance” discharges the insured’s balance at death
§ The important thing with Life Insurance is that the money from the policy goes right to the person named as beneficiary of the policy
§ Why is probate so bad?
·         Costs money – people don’t like spending money
o   Note: Searcy says that the money spent n a probate proceeding is nominal compared to non probate distribution
·         Involves courts – people don’t like dealing with courts
·         Public process – people don’t like having their wills open to the public
§ Advantage
·         Creditors have limited amount of time to collect on decedent’s estate
o   If the decedent has debts, the administrator of his estate must attempt to pay the debts, but if he tries an is unsuccessful, the creditor loses his claim after so long
§ Truthfully
·         It is not hard to avoid probate – we will cover lots of ways to do this throughout the course
·         Almost all clients will ask attorney to help them avoid probate