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Wills, Trusts, and Estates: The Essentials, Second Edition

  • Reid Kress Weisbord
  • David Horton
  • Stephen K. Urice
Series / Aspen Casebook Series
Teaching Materials
Table of contents

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Wills, Trusts, and Estates: The Essentials (“Essentials”) offers a sleek and slender presentation of wealth transfer law for an introductory law school course. Written by widely recognized scholars in the field, this text comprehensively yet concisely covers the core legal principles that are tested on the bar exam and essential to a trusts and estates practice. For a fresh perspective, Essentials incorporates current events, lively cases, and engaging examples. It also enables students to maximize out-of-class preparation time by delivering information efficiently in a streamlined and straightforward way. Each chapter contains: (1) clearly explained summaries of each doctrine, (2) explanatory narration accompanying all relevant statutory authority, (3) thoroughly edited judicial opinions followed by analytical questions and answers, and (4) realistic problem sets designed for classroom instruction that illustrate and apply each concept.

New to the Second Edition:

  • Additional core topics, including: federal constitutional law and racial discrimination in testamentary gifts; survival and wrongful death actions; forgery; tortious interference with an inheritance expectancy; electronic and do-it-yourself wills; tax apportionment clauses; waiver of spousal elective share by agreement; revocation of insurance beneficiary designations; directed trusts; and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
  • New cases, including recent decisions by the United States Supreme Court, and new statutes, including uniform acts on electronic wills and directed trusts.
  • New selection of meaningful secondary sources, including relevant empirical scholarship drawn from our own research and other prominent scholars.

Professors and students will benefit from:

  • A text that makes a challenging course accessible, lively, and interactive. It is concise yet comprehensive, and adaptable for two, three, and four credit courses.
  • An emphasis on the development of problem-solving skills by presenting problem sets that allow students to apply newly learned legal doctrine in realistic scenarios, mostly based on litigated cases. Many problem sets are as detail-rich as the cases, which facilitates in-depth discussion of doctrinal nuance.
  • Legal doctrine explained up front and in plain English. According to student feedback, the inclusion of plain English doctrinal summaries often obviates the need for students to purchase a study supplement. For professors, this format provides a baseline on which to build a livelier and sophisticated classroom discussion of the cases and problem sets.
  • The questions and answers following the judicial decisions that encourage student self-assessment.
  • Accompanying family tree diagrams in the textbook (and on the PowerPoint teaching slides) in addition to most judicial opinions, thereby allowing students to quickly ascertain the facts of each case and focus on the application of law.
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