Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, April 1, 2016

Article On Probate-Error Costs

ArticlePictureMark Glover (Professor, University of Wyoming College of Law) recently published an article entitled, Probate-Error Costs, 49 Conn. L. Rev. (2016). Provided below is an abstract of the article:

This Article uses decision theory to more fully explain both why the conventional law focuses on minimizing the risk of false-positive outcomes and why the modern law should be crafted to minimize total probate-error risk. Decision theory suggests that, to identify the proper goal of a decision-making process, one must compare the error costs of false-positive outcomes and false-negative outcomes. If error costs are symmetric, then the decision-making process should be designed to minimize the total risk of error. However, if error costs are asymmetric, then the decision-making process should be designed to minimize the more costly type of error.

This Article is the first to systematically analyze relative error costs within the context of will authentication. Specifically, it argues that probate-error costs were previously asymmetric, with false-positive outcomes being more costly than false-negative outcomes, and it therefore explains why the conventional law minimizes the risk of false-positive outcomes at the expense of an increased risk of false-negative outcomes. Furthermore, the Article argues that probate-error costs have changed so that they are now more symmetric. The recognition of this shift bolsters the reform movement’s argument that the goal of will authentication should be increased accuracy.


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