Legal transactions are stories. They are the stories of marriages, business partnerships, acquisitions, births, and deaths. These stories are built around the hopes, fears, wishes, and concerns of the particular parties to the transaction. But at their core, these stories are not just about the individual circumstances of those parties. At the core of each of these individual stories is a stock story. Virtually every transactional document starts with a form. And stock stories are embedded within each form document. The forms feature ing´enues, tricksters, misers, and sages who undertake journeys, confront mutinies, and at times achieve glory.
This article examines the tales of transactions by examining the stock stories within transactional document forms. This article will first define the term “stock story,” highlighting the applicability of the term “stock story” to the law and its primary focus to date on litigation-based legal documents. This article will then identify and analyze the stock stories embedded within a variety of transactional form documents, such as wills, trust agreements, employment contracts, premarital agreements, and advance directives. Specifically, the article will analyze the (a) stock characters, (b) stock plots, (c) stock situations, and (d) stock inevitable outcomes of transactional form agreements. This article will then address the possibilities and pitfalls related to recognition of the stock stories embedded within these transactional forms.
Susan M. Chesler and Karen J. Sneddon, Tales from a Form Book: Stock Stories and Transactional Documents, 78 Mont. L. Rev. (2017).