Category Archives: Succession

Mariusz Załucki, ‘The Future of Succession Law in the EU: A Proposal’

ABSTRACT As is well known, succession law is the domain of national law in Europe. This must mean that the law of succession varies from one European State to another. The differences in terms of statutory successions, testamentary successions, protection of persons close to the deceased, and liability for the inheritance debts give rise in […]

‘Where There’s a Will in England, There’s a Way’

“Prodded by the coronavirus, thousands are making or updating their estate arrangements, but an archaic law requiring two witnesses in person is forcing people to take drastic measures …” (more) [Benjamin Mueller, New York Times, 28 April]

Richard Storrow, ‘The Secret Life of Testamentary Schemes’

ABSTRACT The testamentary scheme, a poorly understood interpretative tool used by courts to determine the meaning of a will’s dispositive provisions, is insufficiently theorized in both case law and scholarly commentary. Based on a painstaking study of testamentary schemes in context, in this article I raise and defend three propositions: (1) a testamentary scheme is […]

Horton and Weisbord, ‘COVID-19 and Formal Wills’

ABSTRACT … This Essay argues that COVID-19 vividly highlights the shortcomings of formal wills. Indeed, the outbreak has exposed the main problem with the Wills Act: it makes will-making inaccessible. As a result, we urge lawmakers in states that cling to the statute to liberalize the requirements for creating a will. Our argument proceeds in […]

Melissa Clark, ‘Avoiding Grave Consequences: Electronic Wills as a Solution for Texas’

ABSTRACT There is a vast gap in Texas between testate and intestate individuals. Admitting electronic wills to probate may reduce that gap. This article analyzes the current electronic will statutes in effect and the newly created Uniform Electronic Will Act to propose a statute for Texas designed to further testator disposition of property, ensure compliance […]

John Langbein, ‘Because Property Became Contract: Understanding the American Nonprobate Revolution’

ABSTRACT In modern American practice the state-operated court system for transferring wealth on death, called probate, is being displaced. The wealth-transfer process has been increasingly privatized, conducted now mostly in the back offices of financial institutions rather than in the probate courts. Driving this privatization of wealth transfer has been a profound change in the […]

Fellows and Spitko, ‘How Should Non-Probate Transfers Matter in Intestacy?’

ABSTRACT As American family structures have become more heterogeneous, status-based intestacy statutes have become less suited to promoting donative intent. Indeed, numerous scholars of wealth transfer law have noted the critical need for intestacy law reform to address the needs of decedents whose donative intent does not comport with traditional family norms. We propose addressing […]

Wright and Emrick, ‘Tearing Down the Wall: How Transfer-on-Death Real-Estate Deeds Challenge the Inter Vivos/Testamentary Divide’

ABSTRACT This Article will examine one of the most recent will substitutes, the transfer-on-death (‘TOD’) real-estate deed. Nearly half of the states have recognized, through common-law forms or legislation, a mechanism to allow for the transfer of real property on death without using a will, without following the will formalities, and without necessitating probate. This […]

Adam Hirsch, ‘Technology Adrift: In Search of a Role for Electronic Wills’

ABSTRACT This Article addresses the law and public policy of electronic wills. The Article analyzes state statutes that either apply explicitly, or might apply implicitly, to wills of this type and concludes that judicial approval of electronic wills is already within the realm of possibility even in the many states that do not expressly allow […]

Horton and Weisbord, ‘Heir Hunting’

ABSTRACT … The Article reaches three main conclusions. First, heir hunting is a booming business. Indeed, the Article unearths 219 agreements between heir hunters and heirs from twenty-seven American states and eleven foreign countries. Second, heir hunting can be socially valuable. Heir hunters sometimes locate long-lost relatives after everyone else has failed. Third, heir hunting […]