Welcome Letter: Estate Planning and Administration

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Welcome to Distance Education at Cuesta College and the online course Estate Planning. I look forward to being your instructor for this course. This letter is to inform you of some of the important details prior to the start of class.

About Your Instructor

My name is Janet Wallace. I earned my Juris Doctorate from UC Davis School of Law and am a Partner at O’Leary Wallace LLP, a local law firm. I can be reached at janet_wallace2@cuesta.edu. Office hours will be scheduled at the start of the course. 

Course Overview

This course introduces the fundamental principles of estate planning and administration. In addition, students will learn the terminology, procedures, and legal document/form preparation involved in estate planning and administration matters. Please be prepared to spend 8 to 10 hours per week on coursework for this class.

In Class Meetings


Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  1. Prepare proper judicial forms and legal documents in estate planning, including wills and trusts; in estate administration, including formal probate and summary proceedings, as well as forms and documents relevant to powers of attorney.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of the appropriate legal application software by utilizing the software in the preparation of forms and documents relevant to estate planning and administration.
  3. Compare and contrast the relative advantages and disadvantages of such estate planning devices as trusts and wills.
  4. Summarize California law regarding the distribution patterns of assets with a will and without a will.
  5. Describe the ways in which property can be transferred upon the owner’s death and what circumstances would require formal proceedings to transfer the decedent’s property.
  6. Differentiate between the rights and duties created under a power of attorney versus the rights and duties created under a conservatorship.
  7. Describe the steps involved in a full probate proceeding as well as summary proceedings such as community property confirmation and small estate transfers.

Canvas, Email, Technology

This online course will be using a Web-based Learning Management System, Canvas, as the method to disseminate information. Canvas provides the framework for the course including PowerPoint presentations, student data files, the tools to receive and send course materials, and a grade book. Using the communication tools, you can communicate using e-mail, and you can share materials and ideas with other course participants via the discussion forums and groups.

Prior to the Monday classes start, you will receive an email to your my.Cuesta.edu address providing you with a reminder that class will be starting and log in procedures for Canvas, the learning management system used to deliver course content. You can access Canvas by logging into MyCuesta, then clicking on the Resources Tab, then clicking on Canvas in the Online Learning Channel, or by typing https://cuesta.instructure.com/ into your browser address bar.

If you are not familiar with logging into canvas, please refer to the Canvas Quick Reference Guide. Once logged into Canvas you will be directed on where to get started. Be sure to read all the direction on the course home page.  If you are having difficulty logging into Canvas and need assistance please email technical support at support@my.cuesta.edu. 

It is essential that you understand the basic concepts of email, web navigation and online communication to succeed in this course. Please visit cuesta college’s distance education website at http://library.cuesta.edu/distance/index.htm for FAQs, online resources, and information on how to survive an online course.

Cuesta students are encouraged to direct all technical support inquiries to  support@my.cuesta.edu. If you are having issues with Canvas, you should contact the Canvas Support Hotline at (877) 921-7680, or click on the help button on the Canvas Navigation to report a problem.

If you are having difficulty viewing the course or logging in, it may be because you are not using the correct url. Your learning environment is best accessed from a desktop or laptop computer, using Firefox or Chrome.  This may solve your problem!  


The textbooks are:

1. Wills, Trusts, and Estates: Examples and Explanations

2. How to Probate an Estate in California 

Please visit the bookstore for more information.

College Policies

Each student is required to follow all school guidelines and comply with all school deadlines including personal responsibility for adding and/or dropping this class. Drop dates are available on the academic calendar. Each student is responsible for obtaining updates or changes to the syllabus and/or assignments for the course.

Students are responsible for being aware of and complying with the academic honesty policy (refer to cuesta college schedule or cuesta college catalog). At the discretion of the instructor, students being academically dishonest will be dropped from the course. If the drop deadline has passed, students will receive a failing grade in the course.


This course is designed using an accessible Learning Management System, and course materials have been created with ADA compliance in mind. If you have a disability and might need accommodations in this class such as extended time on exams or other resources. Please contact the instructor as soon as possible so that you can receive appropriate accommodations in a timely manner. You should also contact DSPS (Disabled Student Programs & Services) at 805-546-3148 or http://www.cuesta.edu/student/studentservices/dsps/index.html

Final Thoughts

If you have never taken an online class or this is your first experience with Canvas, please be patient with yourself. Online classes are not inherently easier, although they may be much more convenient for many students. You should expect to spend at least as much time, if not more on this course as you would on a course that meets face to face. Please let me know if I can be of assistance.

I look forward to working together!

Janet Wallace

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