Abstract: Testamentary freedom, the guiding principle of American inheritance law, grants individuals broad power to control the disposition of property at death. Most individuals, however, allow testamentary freedom to lapse because they never execute a will. Empirical research reveals that most Americans need and want a will because they cannot identify their intestate heirs, but nevertheless die intestate. The high rate of unintended intestacy is a longstanding, pernicious problem that undermines testamentary freedom, disrupts the expectation of intended beneficiaries, and disproportionately affects nontraditional families and smaller estates. This Article challenges the traditional assumption that most individuals lack a will because they instinctively avoid or postpone decisions regarding death. The widespread use of nontesta-mentary transfers, such as payable-on-death accounts and life insurance, prove that Americans are willing to plan for the succession of property at death provided the process is sufficiently accessible, simple, and quick. By contrast, most lay individuals likely perceive the formality laden will-making process as obscure, complex, burdensome, and expensive. This Article proposes simplifying the testamentary process by attaching an optional form will to state individual income tax returns. This “testamentary schedule” would improve the will-making process by rendering it simple, widely accessible, easily amendable, and less susceptible to tampering or misplacement.
BCLR Moves to # 25 in Law Journal Rankings
The Boston College Law Review has moved from #26 to #25 in the annual Washington and Lee University School of Law Law […]
Alumni-Student Happy Hour, February 19
Dear BCLR Alumni, I am pleased to announce that the Boston College Law Review will be hosting its Alumni-Student Happy […]
2014 E. Supp. Now Available
We have begun posting case comments from recent federal appellate decisions to our 2014 E. Supp., which can be found […]