Category Archives: Succession

Melissa Clark, ‘Avoiding Grave Consequences: Electronic Wills as a Solution for Texas’

ABSTRACT There is a vast gap in Texas between testate and intestate individuals. Admitting electronic wills to probate may reduce that gap. This article analyzes the current electronic will statutes in effect and the newly created Uniform Electronic Will Act to propose a statute for Texas designed to further testator disposition of property, ensure compliance […]

John Langbein, ‘Because Property Became Contract: Understanding the American Nonprobate Revolution’

ABSTRACT In modern American practice the state-operated court system for transferring wealth on death, called probate, is being displaced. The wealth-transfer process has been increasingly privatized, conducted now mostly in the back offices of financial institutions rather than in the probate courts. Driving this privatization of wealth transfer has been a profound change in the […]

Fellows and Spitko, ‘How Should Non-Probate Transfers Matter in Intestacy?’

ABSTRACT As American family structures have become more heterogeneous, status-based intestacy statutes have become less suited to promoting donative intent. Indeed, numerous scholars of wealth transfer law have noted the critical need for intestacy law reform to address the needs of decedents whose donative intent does not comport with traditional family norms. We propose addressing […]

Wright and Emrick, ‘Tearing Down the Wall: How Transfer-on-Death Real-Estate Deeds Challenge the Inter Vivos/Testamentary Divide’

ABSTRACT This Article will examine one of the most recent will substitutes, the transfer-on-death (‘TOD’) real-estate deed. Nearly half of the states have recognized, through common-law forms or legislation, a mechanism to allow for the transfer of real property on death without using a will, without following the will formalities, and without necessitating probate. This […]

Adam Hirsch, ‘Technology Adrift: In Search of a Role for Electronic Wills’

ABSTRACT This Article addresses the law and public policy of electronic wills. The Article analyzes state statutes that either apply explicitly, or might apply implicitly, to wills of this type and concludes that judicial approval of electronic wills is already within the realm of possibility even in the many states that do not expressly allow […]

Horton and Weisbord, ‘Heir Hunting’

ABSTRACT … The Article reaches three main conclusions. First, heir hunting is a booming business. Indeed, the Article unearths 219 agreements between heir hunters and heirs from twenty-seven American states and eleven foreign countries. Second, heir hunting can be socially valuable. Heir hunters sometimes locate long-lost relatives after everyone else has failed. Third, heir hunting […]

Joshua Hamlet, ‘Neglecting Responsibilities: The Uniform Probate Code’s Failure to Address Child Maltreatment and Poverty’

ABSTRACT When a child or adolescent passes away, parents are typically stricken with grief and unable to cope with the devastation. Unfortunately, the emotional toll is not the only challenge parents face. Some are forced to handle legal battles regarding the administration of their deceased child’s estate. Since the majority of children do not have […]

Barry Cushman, ‘The Decline of Revocation by Physical Act’

ABSTRACT 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 […]

‘Of Trusts, Grammar, and Gender’

Deborah Gordon, Engendering Trust, 213 Wisconsin Law Review 213 (2019), available at SSRN. In her new piece, Engendering Trust, Deborah Gordon takes on the relationship between women, wealth, inheritance, and the trust form. This intricate relationship is a long-standing one – a vintage marriage, so to speak – defined by gendered asymmetries, assumptions, and characterizations […]

Edward Stone, ‘Dying trusts, living trusts’

ABSTRACT The popularity of trusts has been on a long downward trend in the UK. According to the latest data published by HMRC in September 2019, the total number of trusts and estates registered for tax in the UK has fallen by almost one-third since April 2006 to 150,000 and the number of interest in […]