Wills is an in-depth study of the Tennessee law of intestate succession and wills, and an introductory (less in-depth) examination of related subjects such as incapacity documents, trusts, and estate administration in probate court. The name of the course – “Wills” – is a bit misleading. The course covers not only Wills but also intestate administration (dying without a will), powers of attorney, the basics of trust law, and estate administration in probate court. You do not write a will in this class, but you learn about the laws pertaining to wills, so you need to master this subject matter to be competent to draft a will. We begin by learning about intestate administration, concepts of representation (is per stirpes a social disease? – you’ll have to show up to find out) and basic terminology, then with that background we move into wills: capacity to make a will; grounds for will contests; rules for properly executing attested and holographic wills; revocation, republication, integration of wills; interpretation and construction of ambiguities in wills; lapses, ademption and abatement of bequests. Then we learn about elective share and other rights of surviving spouses and pretermitted children. Next we address incapacity documents (powers of attorney and medical directives). Then we learn about non-probate transfers, revocable and irrevocable trusts, and take a peek at Tennessee’s array of trust laws including its version of the Uniform Trust Code. Finally, we end up with an introduction to estate administration in probate court.
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