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Wills, Trusts, and Estates in Context

  • Scott Andrew Shepard
Series / Aspen Coursebook Series
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Buy a new version of this textbook and receive access to the Connected eBook with Study Center on Casebook Connect, including lifetime access to the online ebook with highlight, annotation, and search capabilities. Access also includes practice questions, an outline tool, and other helpful resources. Connected eBooks provide what you need most to be successful in your law school classes.

Wills, Trusts, and Estates in Context offers law school professors and students an accessible, student-friendly coursebook with narrative exposition, replete with significant caches of examples before and after cases. The narrative sections often build slowly in complexity, allowing students to learn the subject from the foundations up. The organization allows equal effectiveness for teaching Wills first or Trusts first, though the text—following tradition—presents Wills first. The book does not rely primarily on cases to teach doctrine. Instead of “hiding the ball,” Shepard offers students the ball and then “plays catch” with students by offering cases that guide an exploration and confirmation of the student’s understanding of doctrine.

The accessibility of this book is complemented by a Practicum Problem, a case file that is designed to offer students a practice-based, team-organized, drafting and negotiation opportunity at the end of the semester; the book’s website, accessible to students, will also include previously used practicum problems that could be discussed throughout the semester to give students context and motivation by putting the student in the role of the lawyer handling a case.

The curriculum is divided into three parts: (1) intestacy, other default rules, and mandatory rules that apply to both wills and trusts; (2) wills; and (3) trusts. It is structured to invite – but not require – instructors to offer students multiple in-semester assessments by testing the materials covered in each section at the end of the section, and before the practicum begins. The author will include some multiple choice problems to strengthen the formative assessment feature of the book. The practicum problem will have rich TM support to allow it to be used in different ways and to different degrees, and it will be revised or replaced annually. (The author uses these three section tests and the practicum problem as a substitute for a final exam, but it will be no problem to use this text in more traditional ways.)

Professors and students will benefit from:

  • Coverage of topics that is generally proportional to the coverage of topics on the bar exam
  • Example- and hypothetical-heavy narrative exposition
  • 20 highly relevant and illustrative cases, including some of the most teachable and often-used in the field
  • Materials presented more quickly than traditional textbooks, in a manner that has proven accessible to a wide range of students
  • Tests at the end of the three primary divisions of the text.
  • End-of-the-semester practicum. The practicum is a practice-based, writing, negotiation and team-work project that gives students a chance to apply what they’ve learned in a setting that models real practice.


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