Category Archives: Law Reform

The Case for Abolishing Probate

Probate, the court supervised process to distribute assets after a person’s death, is a legal relic — a holdover that traces its roots to feudal law. No other country still has an expensive, time-consuming probate system like ours. Even England, the source of our probate law, eliminated its probate court system in the 1920’s. But  Continue Reading »

Make the Courthouse User-Friendly

It’s obvious, from the moment you walk in, that courthouses do not welcome the public. Unlike most government facilities, there’s rarely a central information desk or consumer-focused window. Although more information is available than a decade ago, in most states the kind of informative pamphlets typically found in a Social Security, motor vehicle registration or  Continue Reading »

Legal Paperwork: Time for a 50-State Standard

Each of our 50 states requires different legal forms to accomplish the same routine, often-repeated tasks such as uncontested divorces, name changes, and stepparent adoptions. This bureaucratic balkanization makes about as much economic sense as it would for every state to require a different width for its railroad tracks. The American legal system’s failure to agree  Continue Reading »

Eliminate Bias Against People Who Represent Themselves in Court

During my many years of working with Nolo, I have spoken with loads of competent people, including many who excelled in demanding occupations — physicians, architects, teachers, dentists, inventors, physicists — who felt they were treated like not very bright children by clerks and judges. Lawyers and judges, of course, typically claim that legal self-helpers  Continue Reading »

Small Claims Court: Big Ideas for Reform

Small claims court is our legal system’s best kept secret. Especially when combined with a mediation program that encourages people to settle their cases outside the courtroom, the small claims system offers high-quality justice at a reasonable cost. But unrealistically low dollar limits and restrictions on the types of cases allowed in small claims court  Continue Reading »