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Wills, Probate and Inheritance


  • Credit value: 15 credits at Level 6
  • Convenor and tutor: Professor Daniel Monk
  • Assessment: a 1000-word essay on writing a will (50%) and 1000-word book review (50%)

Module description

Advising people about inheritance is a long-standing and fast-growing key area of legal practice. Whether writing wills or disputing an inheritance after someone has died it is an area of practice that brings together highly personal emotions with public policy concerns. The question 'Who will inherit?' goes to the heart of debates about the role of the family, property, kinship and social justice.

In this module we provide you with practical skills, essential knowledge of the law and an understanding the history and wider context of inheritance law and policy making.

Indicative syllabus

  • Why inheritance? Introduction to the module
  • Testamentary freedom: history and comparative perspectives
  • Will writing: the essentials
  • Will writing: conditions and human rights
  • Intestacy
  • Challenging wills and intestacy: common law doctrines (capacity and certainty)
  • Challenging wills and intestacy: statutory rules (dependency and the 1975 Act)
  • Inheritance tax
  • Administration of estates: the basics

Learning objectives

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • take instructions and write a will
  • advise people about the merits and chances of success in disputing a will or intestacy
  • engage in debates about inheritance law and policies in a reflective, informed and questioning manner.