Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Barbri's Wills & Trusts Lecture

Wills & Trusts (O'Brien) (Grade: A)

Excellent. O'Brien is right up their with Freer as one of Barbri's best lectures. You know you're going to get a Wills or Trusts essay.  So do yourself a favor: Maximize your study time by learning cold a subject for which the VBBE will almost certainly devote an entire essay. There's ten points in your corner already. That's how you beat this exam.

What I said about VA Civ Pro also applies here. Get as comfortable as possible with this lecture outline. That doesn't mean memorizing every page. Instead, pay close attention to where O'Brien says, "this is important," or "this was tested last year," etc. Star or highlight those sections - they're very important.

Like VA Civ Pro, Wills/Trusts is all about spotting the problem and knowing which steps to apply to solve that problem. The process is fairly mechanical. That's why the VBBE loves to test on these subjects! There's very little room for interpretation; you either know it or you don't. Sure, a Wills essays might ask you to discuss the validity of a will, and might even set up the facts so that you could make an argument for or against validity, but one argument will likely be stronger than the other. Address the points for the other side, but then reinforce why the position you're taking is the better one.

As to which issues within Wills/Trusts to give extra attention, again READ THE ESSAYS. As I said for VA Civ Pro, the VBBE loves to recycle essays. Take note of where certain issues are tested three, four, five times in the practice essays. . .  If you do every Wills/Trusts essay in Barbri's essay book, you will see very clearly which topical areas you need to know cold. If the model answers still leave you a little shaky on a particular issue, refer back to O'Brien's lecture outline. The only part I would not recommend sweating over (more than once) is his lengthy elective share problem towards the end of the Wills section. It's poorly set up, and might confuse you more than it will clarify.

Finally, while Wills is by far the most tested of the two subjects, they really go hand in hand. Do not skim Trusts to spend more time on Wills. For all you know, the Wills/Trusts essay could end up being a straight up Trusts essay (e.g., the Feb. 2010 exam). Don't gamble on ten points like that.

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