LAWS160 Wills, Trusts, and Estates

Department of Business Studies: Paralegal/Law

I. Course Number and Title
LAWS160 Wills, Trusts, and Estates
II. Number of Credits
3 credits
III. Number of Instructional Minutes
IV. Prerequisites
LAWS100 or LAWS110
V. Other Pertinent Information
VI. Catalog Course Description
Probate, Estate, and Fiduciary Code as amended and applied in Pennsylvania with emphasis on wills, trusts, administration of estate from death, through preparation and filing, to inheritance and estate tax return, accounting and distribution of assets. Adoption, living wills, durable powers of attorney, and appointment of guardians are covered.
VII. Required Course Content and Direction
  1. Course Learning Goals

    1. General and specific knowledge of the area of the Probate, Estate and Fiduciary Code and practice as they relate to specific areas of wills, trusts, and estate practice;
    2. Hands on approach to the practice aspects of assisting a lawyer to serve clients and the ethical issues in the various areas of this specialized practice;
    3. A working knowledge of the functions and operation of the Court in dealing with the wills, trusts, and estate issues;
    4. Law offices procedure, billing practices, communication with clients and file management;
    5. Recognition and familiarity with specialized areas of Orphans Court practice;
    6. Understanding and familiarity with the practice and procedures in the following areas of wills, trusts, and estates (Orphans Court Practice):
      1. Preparation of wills and trusts;
      2. Disposition of estates without probate, preliminary steps before probate, the Grant of Letters testamentary and Letters of Administration, including who may qualify as administrator;
      3. Will contest disclaims and renunciations;
      4. Gathering information concerning the assets of the estate and duties following the Grant of Letters;
      5. Family exemptions and elections to take against the will;
      6. Disposition of debts and claims against the estate;
      7. Preparation of and filing inventory, Pennsylvania inheritance, estate, and income tax returns, along with the Federal Estate and Income tax return;
      8. Preparation of family settlement agreements on formal accounting for presentation at audit, and distribution of the estate assets; and
      9. Adoption formed and requirements, appointment of Guardians for minors and for incapacitated persons
  2. Planned Sequence of Topics and/or Learning Activities

    1. WEEK ONE: Overview of Wills, Estates and Trusts Explanation of gifts, parties involved, source of estate law and paralegal careers, vocabulary words and terminology.
    2. WEEK TWO: Basics of Property Concepts Explanation of various types of properties, forms of ownership and transferring ownership in property. Vocabulary words and preparation of a deed to transfer real estate in an estate.
    3. WEEK THREE: Estate Planning Discussion of what information should the paralegal and attorney should obtain during the initial conference for estate planning and other means to transfer one''s assets without a will. Preparation of a check list of information for the interview.
    4. WEEK FOUR: Estate Distribution Option Discussion of wills and other means of distributing property such as insurance, outright gifts, joint ownerships with right of survivorship and inter vivos trusts and intestate succession. Problems identifying interplay between testamentary provisions and joint ownership of assets.
    5. WEEK FIVE: Requirements for a valid will Codicil for modification of a will and revocation of a will.
    6. WEEK SIX: Test Review
    7. WEEK SEVEN: Will drafting Use of the checklist from estate planning Chapter and discussion of the mechanics of drafting a will and the actual preparation of a will and execution with the information to be supplied in class. The drafting of wills and codicils.
    8. WEEK EIGHT: Types of Estate Administration Discussion of different types of Estate Administration and determining which would be the right form for an estate.
    9. WEEK NINE: Test - Review
    10. WEEK TEN: Personal Representation and the Estate Administration Process. Procedures following death regarding the location of the will, creation of initial information necessary for the first conference to determine the type of administration or how the will should be probated. How to petition and other documents for appointment of a personal representative and the procedure before the register of wills.
    11. WEEK ELEVEN: Assemble the information concerning assets and debts to prepare the inheritance tar return and income tat returns for the estate. Correspondence to the banks, brokers, stockholders, pension plans, bond redemption, appraisals, insurance for date of death values and a safety deposit box, establishment of an estate checking account, etc. Analysis of personal representative''s duties before and after probate. Physical gathering of assets and valuations, appraisals correspondence, etc. (form letters).
    12. WEEK TWELVE: Tax consideration Review of income tax as its penalties pertain to an estate. The inheritance tax return for Pennsylvania and Estate tax returns which include the preparation of the actual return based on the will and estate information supplied in class, and the time limitation for filing. Discussion of completing the Estate Administration. Preparation of the inheritance tax return for a decedent with all documentation and exhibits and what must be filed with the Register of Wills.
    13. WEEK THIRTEEN: Trusts Different types of trusts, advantages and disadvantages and tax correspondence related to trusts. Preparation of a simple trust instrument.
    14. WEEK FOURTEEN: General Orphans Court Practice, Adoption procedures, 10inor''s Compromise Petitions, Wrongful Death and Survival Petitions, `Will contests, Objection to accounts, Petition for declaring an individual incapacitated, Disclaimers.
    15. WEEK FIFTEEN: Supplemental Information- Pennsylvania Law and Practice Title 20 of Pennsylvania Purdons Consolidated States Annotated Ethics and how it pertains to the paralegal.
  3. Assessment Methods for Course Learning Goals

  4. Reference, Resource, or Learning Materials to be used by Student:

    See course syllabus for required textbook.

Review/Approval Date - 4/99; Revised 3/05; New Coe 8/2015