Originally Posted by KingOfFelt
Not really. Although at this point the hypotheticals are getting a bit out of hand. I'm assuming Brother A is already mega-rich or else why would he spend one million liquid dollars and then donate the next million to charity. I think both legally and ethically Brother B still gets the money or else it would be totally ethical to steal from the rich and give to the poor (which it is not).
You mean its illegal to steal from the rich to give to the poor not unethical. Because depending on who is the rich or the poor and why/how it can be i can assure you very ethical to do exactly that!
(Returning to the thread now for another long post now, lol)
It is why i said the issue has a legal and an ethical component. The legal is decided properly and often if one is good/noble in ways that are also mostly ethical (i proposed such ways). But the law cannot prevent one from being a sob that will take the money by declaring dead the brother asap and then give him absolutely nothing if the law allows someone to be declared dead when a set of details are satisfied and also doesnt allow to cancel decisions after it has been established he was alive anyway. If the law allows to cancel all decisions that stem from accepting one's death as legal reality then the missing brother can legally challenge the decisions and capture assets of the other brother even. So this is why i said ask a lawyer to know exactly what is done in all outcomes.
In any case legal decisions aside since law is not entirely intelligent to be also very ethical but only approximately and in crude ways often and some rare times even boldly unethical, we can all agree that if the missing brother was entirely unable to communicate under hard conditions of not his choice he is owed 1 mil and the other brother must recognize that and find it. In fact i dont care if A wasted half the money and has only 1m left. He must give it and if he has wasted even more he has to give all the rest and owe what is missing adjusted for taxes too.
Yes there is an argument for A that if i knew B would come i would be more careful but without body and strong evidence he should have known better and did the trust thing. Is then 5 years enough? Yes its arbitrary but it is enough generally. If one is kidnapped it should be known he was within 5 years or he is dead or escapes or the family is contacted. 1 year is still risky especially in some scary countries (eg some Africa, some Latin America some south Asia even parts of China, India, Russia etc why not in fact anywhere with smaller chance). Just look at history and establish what the record is and set a date around there. Then award that money to A. If B appears then with an unreal story that is verifiable so be it. A has to find a way to help the situation and B has to be also understanding that 5 years is a long period.
The ethics of the situations can vary a lot too. I mean B may be completely unethical person then A can say the hell with him i declare dead and do whatever and if he comes i will try to do something but if law protects the prior decision as over he may do only a minimal or nothing and still its an ethical defensible choice. My proposal for trust is to clearly hedge in ethical cases when B is a good, decent, neutral even slightly negative person. I have no problem to let the law be as cruel and bold as possible though if B is a real sob. In that case my primary concern is me not him and i take all legal steps to hedge for all future risk without caring for B until he comes back and proves he is reformed and great and suddenly my view changes and then i have to find ways to help him even if the law is no longer able to do anything for him.
The problem with human law is that it has to decide in binary sense usually and try to be typically ethical too but this is never perfect and so as humanity improves our laws are improved too in order to hopefully approximate even more cases the proper ethical way. This is why laws are changing over time in general in improving directions. That is a historical fact and one way to judge the progress of a society (by the quality , effectiveness and reasoning/structure of its laws and the history of their changes/reforms).
I can even take the position that if B was an exceptional nice person and A is not a sob either then A in order to celebrate the memory of the brother (their potential for future goodness) can create the trust i proposed and after its awarded to him permanently either create a fund that helps causes the brother B liked or generally help charities with the money. Maybe all of it or some fraction of it can be used for that purpose and its a good character choice if so by A that puts further positive structure to his own life as well.
In any case doing something for the memory of brother B even if he wasnt exceptional is a good choice for A to honor both parents and brother's memories and their capacity for humanity.
But again you see when it comes to ethics there is some standard minimum most people agree with but the maximum is unlimited typically. One can do all kinds of things that can be seen as better than other already good choices. The law of course has to draw the line at some point trying to create a minimum ethical balance in human society that is imperfect but already good enough to sustain civilization and allow its own future improvement. The law wont ask you to do something good with the money, it wont enforce outstanding moral code of behavior only a minimum. The law will try to make it hard for you to use the money to do bad things (ie buy the silence or shame of others, or buy drugs, or kill them etc) without demanding to do anything great. In the end you want to celebrate the person that does the proper thing not because they are forced by law or even religious fictional afterlife rewards but even when they are completely free to do anything they like. I mean what mostly stops you from creating a major accident pile up in the freeway, is it the risk of life, personal injury and costs, the legal ramifications of prison etc or the respect and love for the lives of the unknown people driving around you and the safety a common decision by all to do the same provides for the world you live in?