I would like to change the way we own things in our society. Apart from the side effect of encouraging people to be more responsive to their own lives, it should also simplify the ridiculously complex legal issues surrounding our passing.There’s no reason to fail to simplify so many things that make death and dying so complicated. If we were ever to endeavor toward such a change, the lawyers might object, but we can figure out a viable way to satisfy most people’s concerns.
I would revise automobile titles so that a “transfer upon death” would be required to be listed on each title, removing arguments about vehicles from the equation when someone dies. The same would be true for real estate. Anything with a registered title would indicate “transfer upon death,” and not be subject to our archaic laws related to wills and estates. “Payable upon death” declarations for bank accounts, stocks and bonds would also be required; again, exempt from the death process.
For most things, it would be impossible to own or register something without clearly delineating how the item should be handled when the original owner dies. Once, when I mentioned something similar to this, a clever person responded by saying that we should pass a law indicating that if you don’t indicate a person to inherit, everything will be donated to the IRS for sale. He said this should be enough of a kick in the pants for most people to become motivated to followup.
Without writing 100 pages regarding the details, I think that the general spirit and idea are profoundly good ones. As with all things important, it is complicated to address. But should it be addressed? Yes.