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Howard Helsinger : Courses and Seminars

Trusts and Estates
LAWS 45201
This year we will attempt experimentally to escape the confines of the "case method," and approach our subject as an area for problem solving. I hope this will more closely mimic the actual practice of law. For each week a problem or question will be set. At the beginning of each week class members will be expected to hand in a one page informal response to the problem. For addressing the problem or question the case book can be considered the first resource to turn to but it need not be the only one. This course examines American systems governing the transfer of property at death and related issues, with occasional glances at other legal systems. We first address statutory schemes for intestate succession. We then contrast the relatively formalistic law of wills (including capacity, execution, modification and revocation, and interpretation) with will substitutes and other comparatively flexible non-testamentary means of transferring property at death, including trusts. We close with a look at fiduciary duties, and in particular the modern prudent investor rule. We will consider both Illinois statutes and the Uniform Probate Code and Trust Act. Recurring course themes are the idea of testamentary freedom; statutory and other constraints on the disposition of property; and legal and other responses to social and technological changes such as assisted conception, artificial life support, untraditional families, and changes in the predominant forms of wealth. Grades will be based on participation in class discussion, contribution to the class Wiki, and a final examination.
Winter 2014
Howard Helsinger, Michelle Huhnke