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Wills

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Full-Text Articles in Law

How Gender And Other Identity Factors Influence Attitudes Toward Will Making: Lessons From Australia, Bridget J. Crawford, Tina Cockburn, Kelly Purser, Ho Fai Chan, Stephen Whyte, Uwe Dulleck Oct 2023

How Gender And Other Identity Factors Influence Attitudes Toward Will Making: Lessons From Australia, Bridget J. Crawford, Tina Cockburn, Kelly Purser, Ho Fai Chan, Stephen Whyte, Uwe Dulleck

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

This essay aims to stimulate interest in further empirical study of attitudes toward will making by reporting the results of a 2022 survey conducted in Australia of the general population (n=1202) and legal professionals (n=112). We asked participants for their views about the ideal age at which to begin the will-making process and the relative contributions of the client and attorney to any resulting will. There was a discernible gender-based difference in views on both questions. Women preferred to initiate those conversations approximately six years earlier than men did and, especially at earlier life stages, preferred less professional input into …


Home Of The Dispossessed, Allison Anna Tait Jan 2022

Home Of The Dispossessed, Allison Anna Tait

Law Faculty Publications

The objects that people interact with on a daily basis speak to and of these people who acquire, display, and handle them—the relationship is one of exchange. People living among household objects come to care for their things, identify with them, and think of them as a constituent part of themselves. A meaningful problem arises, however, when people who have deep connections to the objects that populate their lived spaces are not those who possess the legal rights of ownership. These individuals and groups—usually excluded from the realm of property ownership along lines of gender, race, and ethnicity—live on an …


Keeping Current - Probate, Claire Hargrove, Paula Moore, William P. Lapiana, Jake W. Villanueva Nov 2021

Keeping Current - Probate, Claire Hargrove, Paula Moore, William P. Lapiana, Jake W. Villanueva

Articles & Chapters

No abstract provided.


Wills Formalities In Post-Pandemic World: A Research Agenda, Bridget J. Crawford, Kelly Purser, Tina Cockburn Jan 2021

Wills Formalities In Post-Pandemic World: A Research Agenda, Bridget J. Crawford, Kelly Purser, Tina Cockburn

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

The COVID-19 global pandemic has brought new focus to human mortality. The virus has reminded many people that they need to have a valid will or otherwise make plans for the effective transmission of their property on death. Yet stay-at-home orders and social distancing recommendations make it difficult or impossible to comply with the traditional rules for validly executing wills. Across most common law jurisdictions, the traditional requirements call for two witnesses in the physical presence of the testator. Because of the practical difficulties of safely executing documents during the pandemic with witnesses assembled in physical proximity, many jurisdictions internationally …


Blockchain Wills, Bridget J. Crawford Jul 2020

Blockchain Wills, Bridget J. Crawford

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

Blockchain technology has the potential to radically alter the way that people have executed wills for centuries. This Article makes two principal claims--one descriptive and the other normative. Descriptively, this Article suggests that traditional wills formalities have been relaxed to the point that they no longer serve the cautionary, protective, evidentiary, and channeling functions that scholars have used to justify strict compliance with wills formalities. Widespread use of digital technology in everyday communications has led to several notable cases in which individuals have attempted to execute wills electronically. These wills have had a mixed reception. Four states currently recognize electronic …


Surveying The Not Yet Dead: Comment On Hirsch’S Empirical Analysis Of Revival Of Wills, Jonathan Klick Jun 2020

Surveying The Not Yet Dead: Comment On Hirsch’S Empirical Analysis Of Revival Of Wills, Jonathan Klick

All Faculty Scholarship

Hirsch advocates using an empirically grounded presumption when handling the revival of wills problem. The empirical baseline, according to him, should match what most people think (rightly or wrongly) a court would do when the revival problem arises. Hirsch then presents survey evidence on people’s expectations in this setting. Hirsch’s proposal is completely sensible in principle, and there is no reason it should be restricted to the revival problem. The argument applies throughout the field of wills, trusts, and estates and maybe even the law more generally. In practice, however, defining the relevant population to survey could pose a problem.


Litigation Blues For Red-State Trusts: Judicial Construction Issues For Wills And Trusts, Lee-Ford Tritt Jan 2020

Litigation Blues For Red-State Trusts: Judicial Construction Issues For Wills And Trusts, Lee-Ford Tritt

UF Law Faculty Publications

Will construction—the process wherein a trier of fact must determine the testator’s probable intent because the testator’s actual intent is not clear—is too little discussed and too often misunderstood in succession law jurisprudence. Yet, construction issues are becoming increasingly important due to a growing number of will and trust disputes concerning the determination of beneficiaries in a post-Obergefell United States. Currently, courts are being asked to construe terms like “spouse,” “husband,” “wife,” “child,” “son,” “daughter,” and “descendants” in estate planning documents during a time in which understandings of marriage, identity, reproduction, religious liberty, and public policy are rapidly evolving. Interestingly, …


What Happened To Grandma’S House: The Real Property Implications Of Dying Intestate, Danaya C. Wright Jan 2020

What Happened To Grandma’S House: The Real Property Implications Of Dying Intestate, Danaya C. Wright

UF Law Faculty Publications

Studies have shown that intergenerational wealth transmission significantly affects wealth concentration and the growing wealth gap. Of the two million households that received an inheritance or a substantial inter vivos gift each year, roughly half are small, under $50,000, while transfers of $1 million or more account for only 2% of the transfers. Yet, those 2% of inheritances over $1 million comprise 40% of total wealth transferred. As scholars continue to examine the role of inheritance in the alarming wealth gap, few are focusing on how the laws of intestacy might exacerbate the gap by leading to greater wealth loss …


Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Holmes: A Tale Of Two Testaments, Stephen R. Alton Oct 2019

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Holmes: A Tale Of Two Testaments, Stephen R. Alton

Faculty Scholarship

Author's Note: This Article takes the form of an epistolary exchange across the centuries, comparing and contrasting two noted wills in Victorian literature. To preserve verisimilitude, the author lets these letters and emails speak for themselves, without any formal introduction, just as would have occurred in Victorian epistolary fiction. It is the author's hope that the relevant testaments and the legal issues they present will make themselves clear as these exchanges proceed. Any reader desiring a more formal introduction to this Article is directed to the first email (below) written by the author to Mr. Utterson and Mr. Holmes; this …


Disrupting The Wealth Gap Cycles: An Empirical Study Of Testacy And Wealth, Danaya C. Wright Jan 2019

Disrupting The Wealth Gap Cycles: An Empirical Study Of Testacy And Wealth, Danaya C. Wright

UF Law Faculty Publications

In an empirical study of all decedents dying in 2013 in Alachua County, Florida whose estates were probated, either testate or intestate, the data show striking correlations between intestacy and lower wealth, and testacy and greater wealth. And the demographics of those who died intestate correspond to the demographics of those people at risk of falling into the cycle of wealth-dissipation. To explore the possible effects of intestacy and testacy on wealth and property succession, I analyzed 408 estates (293 testate and 115 intestate) across a variety of categories, including wealth, age, race, sex, and marital status. All of these …


Wills Formalities In The Twenty-First Century, Bridget J. Crawford Jan 2019

Wills Formalities In The Twenty-First Century, Bridget J. Crawford

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

Individuals have executed wills the same way for centuries. But over time, traditional requirements have relaxed. This Article makes two principal claims, both of which disrupt fundamental assumptions about the purposes and functions of wills formalities. First, the traditional requirements that a will must be in writing and signed by the testator in the presence of (or acknowledged before) witnesses have never adequately served their stated purposes. For that reason, strict compliance with formalities cannot be justified by their cautionary, protective, evidentiary, and channeling functions. Reducing or eliminating most of the long-standing requirements for execution of a will is consistent …


The Decline Of Revocation By Physical Act, Barry Cushman Jan 2019

The Decline Of Revocation By Physical Act, Barry Cushman

Journal Articles

The power to revoke one’s will by physical act was enshrined in Anglo-American law in 1677 by the Statute of Frauds. It remains the law in Great Britain, in such developed Commonwealth countries as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and in each of the United States of America. Yet the revocation of wills by physical act has become badly out of phase with the law governing nonprobate transfers, which as a general matter requires that an instrument of transfer be revoked only by a writing signed by the transferor. This article surveys the place of revocation by physical act in …


The Holy Grail? Designing And Teaching An Integrated Doctrine And Drafting Course, Claire C. Robinson May Oct 2018

The Holy Grail? Designing And Teaching An Integrated Doctrine And Drafting Course, Claire C. Robinson May

Law Faculty Articles and Essays

I’ve long considered teaching doctrine and skills together in a single course to be the holy grail of legal education. If we could do so successfully, we might make significant strides in providing a legal education that better prepares our students to be practicing lawyers. In spring 2016, my colleague Professor April Cherry and I took the plunge and collaboratively offered a course titled Estates and Trusts: Doctrine and Drafting at our institution, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. This essay describes our experience and lessons learned pursuing the holy grail.


Commentary On Reid Kress Weisbord And David Horton, Boilerplate And Default Rules In Wills Law: An Empirical Analysis, Danaya C. Wright Jan 2018

Commentary On Reid Kress Weisbord And David Horton, Boilerplate And Default Rules In Wills Law: An Empirical Analysis, Danaya C. Wright

UF Law Faculty Publications

Reid Weisbord and David Horton have undertaken an incredibly important empirical study in an area of law that suffers from a large gap in our understanding of how people actually choose to leave their property at their death and the drafting traps that can easily lead to litigation. The study is also important for illustrating how the lawyers we teach in Trusts and Estates need to be more careful in drafting the various documents to manifest their clients' testamentary intent. In particular, Weisbord and Horton studied 230 recently probated wills in Sussex County, New Jersey and discovered that the use …


Distributive Justice And Donative Intent, Alexander Boni-Saenz Jul 2017

Distributive Justice And Donative Intent, Alexander Boni-Saenz

All Faculty Scholarship

The inheritance system is beset by formalism. Probate courts reject wills on technicalities and refuse to correct obvious drafting mistakes by testators. These doctrines lead to donative errors, or outcomes that are not in line with the decedent’s donative intent. While scholars and reformers have critiqued the intent-defeating effects of formalism in the past, none have examined the resulting distribution of donative errors and connected it to broader social and economic inequalities. Drawing on egalitarian theories of distributive justice, this Article develops a novel critique of formalism in the inheritance law context. The central normative claim is that formalistic wills …


In Re Connell Living Trust, 133 Nev. Adv. Op. 19 (May. 04, 2017), Marco Luna May 2017

In Re Connell Living Trust, 133 Nev. Adv. Op. 19 (May. 04, 2017), Marco Luna

Nevada Supreme Court Summaries

The Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court that found Appellant had breached her fiduciary duty when she withheld assets from entering a trust created for her children, the Respondents. The Court found that the mother had insufficient evidence to raise a genuine issue of material fact that she owned 100% of a trust created by her parents when her children were slated to receive 65% of said trust from their grandparents. The Court affirmed the lower court, ordered the assets be moved to the children's trust, and awarded them attorney's fees.


Honoring Probable Intent In Intestacy: An Empirical Assessment Of The Default Rules And The Modern Family, Danaya C. Wright, Beth Sterner Jan 2017

Honoring Probable Intent In Intestacy: An Empirical Assessment Of The Default Rules And The Modern Family, Danaya C. Wright, Beth Sterner

UF Law Faculty Publications

This article provides preliminary analysis of an empirical study of nearly 500 wills probated in Alachua and Escambia Counties in the State of Florida in 2013. The particular focus of the study is to determine if there are noticeable patterns of property distribution preferences among decedents based on their diverse family relationships. Earlier empirical studies of distribution preferences indicated that a majority of married decedents wanted to give all or most of their estates to their surviving spouses. As a result of these studies, most states amended their probate codes to give surviving spouses a sizable percentage of a decedent …


Personal Reality: Delusion In Law And Science, Joshua C. Tate Jan 2017

Personal Reality: Delusion In Law And Science, Joshua C. Tate

Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

The concept of an insane delusion appears in several branches of the law, including contracts, gifts, and wills. Critics of the traditional doctrine have made compelling arguments in favor of its modification or abolition in the context of wills, given that it is often used as an excuse to substitute the values of jurors for those of the testator. Moreover, recent scientific studies have shown correlations between delusions and other cognitive impairments, calling into question the need for an independent doctrine of insane delusion. Nevertheless, there is evidence that not all deluded individuals have additional cognitive biases, and those who …


Moving Forward By Looking Back: The Retroactive Application Of Obergefell, Lee-Ford Tritt Dec 2016

Moving Forward By Looking Back: The Retroactive Application Of Obergefell, Lee-Ford Tritt

UF Law Faculty Publications

The recent Supreme Court decision of Obergefell v. Hodges has forever altered American jurisprudence. Not only did this decision make same-sex marriage legal in all fifty states, but it also required states to recognize same-sex marriages from other states in accordance with the 14th Amendment. The Court’s holding in Obergefell raises a fundamental question with serious legal and financial significance: when exactly do these once unrecognized marriages legally begin? And to what extent must courts apply Obergefell retroactively? The stakes are high and substantive financial effects are pending on the answer to this question — for, with marriage, comes wide-ranging …


The Will As An Implied Unilateral Arbitration Contract, E. Gary Spitko Jan 2016

The Will As An Implied Unilateral Arbitration Contract, E. Gary Spitko

Faculty Publications

A consensus has begun to develop in the case law, the academic commentary, and the statutory reform movement that a testator’s provision in her will mandating arbitration of any challenge to the will should not be enforceable against a beneficiary who has not agreed to the arbitration provision, at least where the will contestant, by her contest, seeks to increase her inheritance outside the will. Grounding this consensus is the widespread understanding that a will is not a contract. This Article seeks to challenge both the understanding that the will is not a contract and the opposition to enforcement of …


In Memoriam: J. Rodney Johnson (1939-2015), William Hamilton Bryson Jan 2016

In Memoriam: J. Rodney Johnson (1939-2015), William Hamilton Bryson

Law Faculty Publications

A remembrance of J. Rodney Johnson, Professor of Law, Emeritus, of the University of Richmond, and one of the preeminent legal scholars of wills and testamentary trusts in Virginia.


Access To Justice: What To Do About The Law Of Wills, Iris Goodwin Jan 2016

Access To Justice: What To Do About The Law Of Wills, Iris Goodwin

Scholarly Works

No abstract provided.


Biologically Biased Beneficence, Jeffrey E. Stake Jan 2016

Biologically Biased Beneficence, Jeffrey E. Stake

Articles by Maurer Faculty

No abstract provided.


How The Ali's Restatement Third Of Property Is Influencing The Law Of Trusts And Estates, Lawrence W. Waggoner May 2015

How The Ali's Restatement Third Of Property Is Influencing The Law Of Trusts And Estates, Lawrence W. Waggoner

Articles

Restatements, once limited to restating existing law, are now substantially devoted to law reform. The ALI's website states its law-reform policy thus: "The American Law Institute is the leading independent organization in the United States producing scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and otherwise improve the law." In 2014, the Brooklyn Law Review published a symposium issue on Restatements of the Law. A paper in that symposium argued against the ALI's law-reform policy. The authors specifically speculated that the reformist rather than restatist character of the recently completed Restatement (Third) of Property: Wills and Other Donative Transfers (Property Restatement) has "very …


Baker, Walter Arnold, 1937-2010 (Mss 539), Manuscripts & Folklife Archives Apr 2015

Baker, Walter Arnold, 1937-2010 (Mss 539), Manuscripts & Folklife Archives

MSS Finding Aids

Finding aid only for Manuscripts Collection 539. This small collection contains material related to legislative matters of interest to Kentucky legislator and jurist Walter A. Baker, Glasgow, Kentucky. Also includes files about several trips abroad and family material.


The Creeping Federalization Of Wealth-Transfer Law, Lawrence W. Waggoner Jul 2014

The Creeping Federalization Of Wealth-Transfer Law, Lawrence W. Waggoner

Articles

This article appears in a symposium issue published by the Vanderbilt Law Review on The Role of Federal Law in Private Wealth Transfer. Federal authorities have little experience in making law that governs wealth transfers, because that function is traditionally within the province of state law. Although state wealth-transfer law has undergone significant modernization over the last few decades, all three branches of the federal government—legislative, judicial, and executive—have increasingly gone their own way. Lack of experience and, in many cases, lack of knowledge on the part of federal authorities have not dissuaded them from undermining well-considered state law. The …


Review: Linking The Certainty Of Death And Taxes, Browne C. Lewis Jan 2014

Review: Linking The Certainty Of Death And Taxes, Browne C. Lewis

Law Faculty Articles and Essays

This is a review of "Wills for Everyone: Helping Individuals Opt Out of Intestacy" (53 B.C.L. Rev. 877 (2012)), by Reid Kress Weisbord. Lewis praises Weisbord’s attempt to simplify the testamentary process. She agrees with his assertion that in failing to execute a will, most people are not fearing their own mortality and instead are just not willing or able to navigate a complicated testamentary process. She supports his suggestion to make executing a will more like filing a simple tax return, when possible. In sum, she praises his efforts to reduce the rate of intestacy by simplifying the testamentary …


Contemporary Trusts And Estates - An Experiential Approach, Jerome Borison, Naomi R. Cahn, Susan N. Gary, Paula A. Monopoli Jan 2014

Contemporary Trusts And Estates - An Experiential Approach, Jerome Borison, Naomi R. Cahn, Susan N. Gary, Paula A. Monopoli

Faculty Scholarship

In this essay in a special issue dedicated to teaching trusts and estates, the co-authors of Contemporary Trusts & Estates: An Experiential Approach (2d. ed. Aspen 2014) reflect on how the teaching of trusts and estates can integrate policy, practice, doctrine, and centuries of tradition. They describe the genesis of their problem-based casebook and the influence of the Carnegie Report on their choice of pedagogic framework. Each of the co-authors embraced the fundamental principles advocated by the Carnegie Report, which counsels that legal education should integrate “theoretical and practical legal knowledge and professional identity.” This essay goes on to outline …


Contemporary Trusts And Estates - An Experiential Approach, Naomi R. Cahn, Jerome Borison, Susan N. Gary, Paula A. Monopoli Jan 2014

Contemporary Trusts And Estates - An Experiential Approach, Naomi R. Cahn, Jerome Borison, Susan N. Gary, Paula A. Monopoli

GW Law Faculty Publications & Other Works

In this essay in a special issue dedicated to teaching trusts and estates, the co-authors of Contemporary Trusts & Estates: An Experiential Approach (2d. ed. Aspen 2014) reflect on how the teaching of trusts and estates can integrate policy, practice, doctrine, and centuries of tradition. They describe the genesis of their problem-based casebook and the influence of the Carnegie Report on their choice of pedagogic framework. Each of the co-authors embraced the fundamental principles advocated by the Carnegie Report, which counsels that legal education should integrate "theoretical and practical legal knowledge and professional identity." This essay goes on to outline …


A Critical Research Agenda For Wills, Trusts And Estates, Bridget J. Crawford Jan 2014

A Critical Research Agenda For Wills, Trusts And Estates, Bridget J. Crawford

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

The law of wills, trusts, and estates could benefit from consideration of its development and impact on people of color; women of all colors; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals; low-income and poor individuals; the disabled; and nontraditional families. One can measure the law's commitment to justice and equality by understanding the impact on these historically disempowered groups of the laws of intestacy, spousal rights, child protection, will formalities, will contests, and will construction; the creation, operation and construction of trusts; fiduciary administration; creditors' rights; asset protection; nonprobate transfers; planning for incapacity and death; and wealth transfer taxation. This Article …