There is an old saying that “you can’t avoid death or taxes.” Estate planning deals with death and taxes, but it is also very much about helping clients to manage their property during their lives, and it allows clients to plan for disability and death in a way that keeps their families strong and secure. People of all ages need to plan for the many what-ifs of life: people with young children need to designate guardians or plan for support of those children in the event that the parents die or become disabled at an early age. As children grow and parents age, the planning shifts to property management in the face of possible illness or disability, as well as an orderly transition of family wealth from the older generation to children and grandchildren. Social and political changes, such as increasing life expectancy, the apparently increasing incidence of Alzheimer’s disease and shifting political winds over the desirability of having estate taxes, combine to make this a rapidly changing field of law.
Estate planning lawyers specialize in a variety of areas that deal with family wealth and health management, including managing small businesses, tax planning, end-of-life health planning, charitable giving, and the creation and management of trusts. These lawyers must provide sound advice, excellent legal analysis, and meticulous drafting that sets out the client’s plan in a secure way.
Marquette University Law School provides a wide variety of courses that provide students for basic wills and probate practice, as well as for more sophisticated issues of tax and financial planning. Courses include Trusts & Estates, Estate Planning, and Federal Taxation of Estates, Gifts and Trusts. In addition, students have opportunities to take workshops in topics such as Probate Practice. Our strong tax program rounds out the picture, and enables students to learn the intricacies of tax law that often inform the estate planning process.