Sunday, August 24, 2008

Barros on Toward A Model Law of Estates and Future Interests

I've posted my most recent article, Toward a Model Law of Estates and Future Interests, on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

The American law of estates and future interests is tremendously complex. This complexity is unjustifiable because it serves no modern purpose. Many of the distinctions between types of interests in the current system of ownership are vestiges of ancient English feudal concepts and owe their place in the law solely to historical accident. This article develops a proposed model law designed to simplify and modernize the basic property ownership system. The proposals made here differ substantially from prior suggestions for legislative reform, and reflect issues of enactability and retroactivity that previously have been neglected in the literature. The article both builds on and critiques the recently-released preliminary draft of Division VII of the Restatement Third, Property (Wills and Other Donative Transfers), and explains why a model law will be more effective than a Restatement in achieving modernization and reform of the estates and future interests system.

Comments of any sort would be welcome.

Ben Barros

[Comments are held for approval, so there will be some delay in posting]

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Yes, but the crucial and critical question is...will the property profs EVER dispense once and for all with teaching the RAP?!?!?! I'd like to be able to tell my grandchildren "...yep, I actually had to learn that stuff when I was a law student..."

Posted by: Sam Gompers | Aug 25, 2008 4:52:23 AM

Sounds interesting. I've considered teaching the current system as if it were a complex statute. I'll try to give it a read in the midst of semester startup.
Tim Iglesias

Posted by: Tim Iglesias | Aug 25, 2008 12:37:39 PM

I dunno how this will make you feel, Sam, but I'm not teaching the RAP in property this year. Since PA abolished it, I've decided to cut it out of the first-year Property course.

Posted by: Ben Barros | Aug 25, 2008 12:39:15 PM

Oh I get it...wait 'till Gompers gets out of school and then stop teaching it!

Seriously, good riddance. I must confess embarrassment at not mastering the RAP in school. On a scale of 10, 10 being mastery and 5 being average, I'd have given myself a 4 on a good day. On the bright side, while studying for the Bar, I knew it upside down, backwards, with 1 eye tied behind my back, even though I didn't need to really.

Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that there were (are) few concepts from advanced physics whose verbal explanations were as convoluted as the RAP. That's no exaggeration! Maybe if one were to somehow break the RAP down into something more formulaic (in a way not previously accomplished or anticipated, or more algorithmic, ala a physics concept, maybe then, it might be easier to process. On the other hand, given American students' aversion to math, it might not be a good idea.

At any rate, I'll be sure to read your paper.

Posted by: Sam Gompers | Aug 26, 2008 5:36:16 AM

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