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Trusts and Estates
Wayne State University Law School
Sharp, John

step parent adoption clarification
hypos for per stirpes and per capita
stranger to the adoption à difference between intestate and testate?
Alternative devise?
Wills, Trust, Decedent Estate Outline
 
The Family Property Lawyer
The author makes the point that those doing trust/estate planning should be called “family lawyers” – really more appropriate than calling divorce lawyers “family lawyers”.
“What you and I do is listen to the desires, to the wishes, to the hopes, to the terror and to the facts of the life and the death of members of a family unit as they define it. This includes relationships that have no legal standing – gays, aunts, sisters, business partners etc.   We figure out how to take the assets of these people and magnify them to provide for those people our clients love or feel an obligation to care for over the lives of many generations.”
 
Don’t be biased – not just millionaires need estate planning.
Clients for estate planning are all shapes / sizes (taxable estate $675,000). Many shop workers have this in 401K. Don’t be biased – market to everyone.
Greater than $675 constitutes a taxable estate.
 
What is the new definition of family? Shifting demographics (Page 3-4)
Half of all children today send some time in single parent home.
Half of all marriages one person has been married before.
What does this do to the definition of family? 
Need to listen to clients to make sure all bases covered.
In non-traditional relationships it is tough to “designate” this person as a “spouse” giving them benefits … but that would mean they also should get the responsibilities (i.e., support etc.) It should at least require an “agreement” of some sort so each person knows what he or she is getting into. 
 
Common-Law Marriage
·        Like an easement in property
o     use it long enough … you own it! 
·        If you act like a married couple some consequences are going to follow your actions. Some states in the south honor this – but was very abused so Michigan outlawed it in 1957.
 
Donative Freedom
·        Cultural Tradition: Liberal Individualism = Fundamental principles that people should have right to with whatever they w

a default mechanism by controlling the distribution of the property that isn’t otherwise controlled by a nonprobate instrument
Partially intestate
When a decedent’s will doesn’t dispose of all of his/her property
Whether a person dies partially or fully intestate, intestate property is distributed in accordance with intestate succession statutes
Descent
o       inheritance of land
Inheritance
o       intestate succession to land
Heirs
o       those who took land by intestacy
Distribution
o       succession to personal property
Statutes of descent and distribution
o       statutes on intestate succession
Distributees or next of kin
o       those who took personal property by intestacy
Devise
o       a disposition of land by will
Devisee
o       the one who took the land
Legacy or bequest
o       A disposition of personal property
Legatee