Idaho Law Review
Suicide poses difficult and foundational problems for the law. Those who most highly value personal autonomy, those who believe in the inviolability of human life, and those who remain uncommitted on end-of-life issues, all must settle challenging questions about suicide before advancing upon the more complex terrain of physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia, and infanticide. And the way in which a society fashions legal responses to suicidal choices reveals much about the society's cultural commitments and legal assumptions.
The bodies of insurance law, tort, and health care law are also among those areas of the law in which lawmakers reserve special exceptions for the consequences of suicidal acts. One area that has received insufficient attention is the intersection of personal property law and suicide. In particular, suicide implicates a special exception to the enforceability of gifts made in contemplation of impending death. The issue is whether a gift of personal property causa mortis is valid when made in contemplation of and conditional upon the donor's suicide. This question, like so many others that implicate suicide, is not easily resolved. This article addresses the enforceability of gifts of personal property made conditional upon acts of suicide and the attendant debate that has surfaced in the last three decades over the volitional nature of suicide.
Adam J. Macleod, A Gift Worth Dying For: Debating the Volitional Nature of Suicide in the Law of Personal Property, 45 Idaho L. Rev. 93 (2008).