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Family and Inheritance, The

Family and Inheritance, The

Marvin B. Sussman
Judith N. Cates
David T. Smith
With the collaboration of Lodoska K. Clausen
Copyright Date: 1970
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Family and Inheritance, The
    Book Description:

    Two sociologists and a lawyer examine here the attitudes of both survivors and attorney on various problems surrounding inheritance-from will-making through estate settlement. Within a legal frame of reference, this book is a study of what happens within a family at death-and why. The authors use the "inheritance unit" as the basis for looking at the functions of inheritance in intergenerational family continuity and the general patterns of family relationship.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-698-3
    Subjects: Sociology, Economics

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Preface
    (pp. v-viii)
    Marvin B. Sussman, Judith N. Cates and David T. Smith
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Chapter 1 The Family and Inheritance Study in Perspective
    (pp. 1-15)

    With the growth of complex industrialized societies, inheritance has been de-emphasized as a factor in establishing the individual’s or the family’s status, power, security, and economic position within the society. The large-scale development of corporate structures as concomitants of modernization provides for the continuity of economic life over generational time. The patterns of family inheritance fit within this corporate structure. Assets that are now transmitted within families and from one generation to the next are for the most part not in the form of real estate holdings or herds of cattle but are likely to be in the form of...

  5. Chapter 2 Inheritance and the Legal Process
    (pp. 16-35)

    The law of intestate and testate succession governs the transfer at death of economic interests, frequently from one generation to another.Intestatesuccession occurs when a person dies without a will. If he fails to dispose of all his estate at death by means of a will, he is partially intestate.Testatesuccession refers to the disposition of property at death according to the terms of a will. The so-called will substitutes are devices that may be utilized to avoid, at least in part, the usual process of estate settlement. These substitutes include jointly owned property (bank accounts, stocks, bonds,...

  6. Chapter 3 Perspectives and Design of Inheritance Study
    (pp. 36-61)

    The cuyahoga county study was based on a sample of probate court cases closed in 1965. Cuyahoga County, which encompasses the city of Cleveland, Is a metropolitan area of 456 square miles, with a population of approximately two million people. It consists of sixty-one townships, villages, and cities, of which Cleveland is the largest, with over 850,000 people. The area is highly urbanized and has diversified industrial, commercial, and business activities. It is the eleventh largest metropolitan area in the United States. Over 97 per cent of its residents live in cities and their suburbs, a pattern that is typical...

  7. Chapter 4 Testacy Versus Intestacy
    (pp. 62-82)

    This chapter is concerned with the conditions of testacy and intestacy. There is a paucity of information on the characteristics of decedents who are either testate or intestate and on the characteristics of living persons who have or have not made wills. One purpose of this study was to determine if will makers differ significantly from nonwill makers in demographic, social, and economic characteristics. The analysis is based upon the estate practices of two groups. Thedecedent samplerefers to the 659 estates that constituted the 5-per cent random sample of estates closed in Cuyahoga County Probate Court between November,...

  8. Chapter 5 Conceptions of Justice: The Testator
    (pp. 83-120)

    What patterns of distribution were chosen by 422 testators in the decedent sample and 620 survivors who have made their wills?¹ What were the reactions of the beneficiaries and next of kin of the decedent sample to the patterns of distribution?

    The following quotations indicate the importance of making a will, and they also suggest that the value system of the will maker is exposed in the provisions of the will. Through his will, the maker identifies himself.

    Everyone should make a will for orderly dispensation of funds, to assess our relationships and responsibility. A will gives us a sense...

  9. Chapter 6 Conceptions of Justice: The Heirs
    (pp. 121-145)

    The decedent’s conception of justice is embodied in his last will and testament, in which his worldly goods are distributed among specified persons or institutions. His conception mayor may not correspond to that of his heirs.¹ If it does not, the heirs may react with anger or guilt and proceed to rectify the situation.² In some cases, these testate successors may make a redistribution of the property of the decedent.

    Society’s conception of justice may be considered to be shown by the Ohio Statute of Descent and Distribution. The heirs in the intestate case may similarly react with anger or...

  10. Chapter 7 The Inheritance
    (pp. 146-172)

    What was the meaning of inheritance to the survivors of the sample decedents? One purpose of this study was to discover the significance and meaning of inheritance to persons who inherited or who were disinherited. Did survivors believe that the distribution was fair, and did the inheritance have any effect upon the life styles of the inheritors? In this chapter, the unit of analysis is the individual survivor; whereas in Chapter 5 and 6, the unit of analysis was the case.

    All survivors under testate and intestate succession were asked whether they thought the distribution in their particular case was...

  11. Chapter 8 Economic and Legal Aspects of Estates
    (pp. 173-200)

    The terminheritanceconjures up a perception of an estate of large size being transferred from the decedent to chosen takers. Yet in any random sample of probate cases, there is a wide range in the net worth of estates, with very few over $100,000. In most inheritance studies, the researchers do not probe for nondeclared assets such as insurance. Often, accurate accounting of debts is not made. In this study, data were obtained systematically on all economic aspects of the estate of 659 cases in the decedent sample, and these findings are presented in this chapter.

    Available to any...

  12. Chapter 9 Will Making
    (pp. 201-226)

    A will is a legal instrument usually drafted by a lawyer in consultation with his client. The actual interaction between client and lawyer is not accessible, but an examination of the attitudes of clients and lawyers may illuminate the transaction. Why does a person make a will? How free should he be in decisions about the distribution of his worldly belongings? What is the lawyer’s definition of his role in will making? Is he properly rewarded for his work? What is his image of the client in this area of practice?

    Chapter 4 was devoted to an analysis of the...

  13. Chapter 10 Estate Settlement: Purpose and Function of Probate Court
    (pp. 227-246)

    The processes of probate and estate administration arc discussed in this chapter. Essentially, this means an examination of the purpose and function of the probate court. Although laymen may believe that they know who will take their property at their death, few people have any real understanding of how the transfer is to be effectuated. The objective of this chapter is to describe what happens to an individual’s estate when he dies.

    The discussion is limited to testate and intestate succession. There are also, of course, the so-called will substitutes (discussed in Chapter 2). Such property arrangements or transfers are...

  14. Chapter 11 Estate Settlement: Client Attitudes Toward the Probate Process
    (pp. 247-266)

    Estate settlement is technical. The decedents’ survivors can scarcely be expected to understand the process in detail. However, all the survivors were interested parties in the settlement, and they had their own opinions of the probate process. Critics of the probate court singled out administrative costs and the time involved in settlement as especially bad features of the system. Time and cost were also matters of concern to the interested survivors. The most important functionaries in the system from the point of view of the survivors were the court personnel, the lawyer, and the appraisers.

    The survivors were asked questions...

  15. Chapter 12 Estate Settlement: Lawyer Attitudes Toward the Probate Process
    (pp. 267-285)

    Estate settlement differs from estate planning, and these differences have consequences for the relationship between the lawyer and his client. The employment of an attorney in the settlement of an estate by the executor or administrator is imperative in most cases.¹ Clients cannot decide to do it themselves or disregard the need for a settlement, as it is possible for them to do in regard to will making by deciding to be intestate. The legal profession has a virtual monopoly of estate settlement. Banks may serve as executors and as trustees, but they cannot serve as attorneys; and probate and...

  16. Chapter 13 Findings, Implications, and Analysis
    (pp. 286-314)

    The task of a researcher is to examine his data and to select those findings that are most relevant to substantiating or negating his hypotheses or that succinctly answer the questions he poses. A further obligation of the researcher is to examine these findings for their relevance in providing explanations of individual and group behavior and to determine how such data might be used by those in practice or in administrative positions within society. To do either of these two things requires some interpretation of research findings, and in this the investigator has to call upon his experience, knowledge, and...

  17. Appendix A: Statutes from the Ohio Revised Code
    (pp. 317-322)
  18. Appendix B: Rating Scale for Homes in Cuyahoga County
    (pp. 323-324)
  19. Appendix C: Description of the Lawyer Sample
    (pp. 325-329)
  20. Appendix D: Life Cycle and Testacy
    (pp. 330-333)
  21. Appendix E: General Tables
    (pp. 334-338)
  22. Appendix F: Code of Conduct for Cleveland Banks Regarding Estate Planning
    (pp. 339-340)
  23. Appendix G: Probate Court Rules
    (pp. 341-348)
  24. Glossary
    (pp. 349-354)
  25. Bibliography
    (pp. 355-362)
  26. Index
    (pp. 363-367)