Estate and Retirement Planning is a survey course in which students begin to learn how individuals may arrange their affairs such that:
An individual's wealth and well-being will be managed adequately during his or her lifetime, even if the individual becomes incapacitated.
The individual's wealth will pass efficiently (a) through life-time gifts or upon the individual's death to those persons the individual chooses, and (b) in a manner that minimizes taxes and expenses and takes into account the special needs a particular beneficiary may have.
The course begins with an overview of how property passes at death through the use of wills, trusts, and beneficiary designations or by operation of law. Next is an introduction to estate, gift and income tax considerations in transferring wealth gratuitously. Building on that foundation, the remainder of the course (1) focuses on selected planning issues and on strategies that individuals and couples may use to preserve and transfer wealth gratuitously, and (2) introduces students to aspects of retirement planning, life insurance and annuities, charitable giving and other topics.
As its name suggests, Estate Planning is a planning course and combines theory with practice. Students learn through readings, sample documents, problem sets, drafting, and class discussion. The course grade is based primarily on writing assignments that require students to draft and explain documents an estate planning attorney is likely to use in practice. Unless taught by an adjunct professor, the course satisfies the law school writing requirement.