There’s one thing we can all be sure of, and that is that we will die. And before we die, if we’re lucky, we will get old. There are many legal issues associated with old age and dying, especially when you consider that for many people aging and dying involve the transmission of wealth to heirs. The lawyers who practice in the areas of elder law, trust and estate planning, and estate taxation work at large, medium and small law firms, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. One of the appealing aspects of a practice in one of these affiliated areas is that an attorney has the opportunity to deal with clients on a very personal level, and help them realize and defend their visions of how they will leave the world and what their legacy will be.
An estate planning practice will generally include the preparation of wills and trusts for the protection and transmission of wealth, preparation of related documents to control medical care decisions, tax advice, and advice about charitable giving. An estate planning attorney may supervise the probate or wealth-transmission process, filing all necessary documents to settle an estate, as well as preparing or overseeing any tax matters associated with the estate. Trust and estate litigators may represent clients in fiduciary duty matters, probate, and controversies associated with the settlement of an estate. Estate tax litigators represent clients in controversies with the IRS or state taxing authorities.
In terms of course planning, there are a few basic courses and then a wide variety of more advanced electives and affiliated courses that would be useful depending on one’s preferences, interests, and likely career direction. Skills based courses are also important to students interested in this area, as are all of WCL’s clinics where students will experience and reflect on counseling and interacting with clients.