Professor emphasizes practical estate planning

By Kelcee Griffis and Shannon Kaestle

McCouch, who joined the UF Law faculty full time in fall 2013 as the Gerald Sohn Professor of Law, teaches estates and trusts; taxation of gratuitous transfers; and estate planning. Although McCouch knows that these subjects can often instill “fear, anxiety, and misgiving,” he thinks everyone should know something about them. McCouch_Grayson

McCouch acknowledges that executing a will, trust, or power of attorney can be daunting. That’s why he urges students to take the subject seriously. Even if they do not end up specializing in estate planning, knowing the basics can help them plan their own affairs and avoid unwelcome surprises, he said.

Before coming to UF, McCouch taught at the University of Miami School of Law and the University of San Diego School of Law. Estate planning is an especially practical field in Florida.

“If you look at the amount of wealth, the legal and professional climate, and the demographics of the state,” he said, “it’s pretty clear that estate planning is an essential part of any lawyer’s basic education — particularly for students at UF.”

He said the real-world applications for his subject areas offer a wide range of career opportunities for law grads. His estates and trusts class is the foundation for more advanced courses dealing with specialized aspects of fiduciary administration, future interests and taxation.

“That’s why I like teaching in these areas,” he said. “I think a lot of students come out with something they will be able to use.”

McCouch became interested in estate planning as a law student and then specialized in the area for several years in practice with a firm in Boston. “The law firm experience was invaluable. I learned a great deal not only about planning and drafting documents but also about client relations and professional responsibility.”

Lee-Ford Tritt, director of UF Law’s Camp Center for Estate Planning, said McCouch brings a high level of scholarship and a personable nature to the college.

“He’s a proven commodity who fits perfectly into our premier tax program while adding to our already outstanding estate planning curriculum,” he said. “And I’m personally lucky to have another friendly colleague with whom to discuss pedagogical and scholarly issues. I couldn’t be happier to have Professor McCouch right down the hall from me.”

The feeling of collegiality is mutual. McCouch, who noted how much he enjoys his UF faculty colleagues, said he was drawn to UF Law because of its dynamic and stimulating atmosphere.

“It’s a very exciting place, with a diverse and talented faculty and first-rate students,” he said.