Thanks to Gerry Beyer's wills, trusts, and estates blog I see that a legislator in California has set up a wiki to "allow citizens 'to draft a piece of legislation directly.'” And you know what? They're using the probate code. This ought to be very interesting -- so far there aren't a lot of participants, but they are what you might expect from California. For instance, a participant who calls herself(?) Crazyliz says "I'm another retired lawyer, from California, and I'm also interested in citizen democracy, so I want to participate in this experiment. I've participated in the past in an experiment with rule-making by wiki, which didn't work out so well, but one unsuccessful attempt doesn't mean the idea can't work. It just means there's more to learn."
While they're starting with a section of the code that restricts those who draft a will (or other instrument) -- and people who're related to the drafter -- from taking under the will. So not all that controversial yet. I look forward to seeing what happens when they get to intestacy shares.... I often find that lay people (and even law students) are surprised at how little a surviving spouse takes via intestacy. In fact, on the first day of trusts and estates I conduct a survey of students' attitudes towards intestacy as a way of gauging their thinking about default rules (and also as a way of introducing some of the concepts we're going to be studying). Almost all of them are substantially more generous to surviving spouses than is the North Carolina probate code. (One notable exception to this is when the surviving spouse has substantial assets of her own -- and that's worth some discussion at some point.)
Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing how this experiment works out.