No, you can't take out a life insurance policy on just anybody, and there's a good reason why. If you could take out a life insurance policy on anyone without their consent, then you would, in the words of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, have a "sinister counter interest in having the life come to an end."
By law, not only do you need a person's written consent to take out a life insurance policy on them, but you also need to prove that you have what's called an "insurable interest" in the individual. You need to prove that you would suffer financially because of their death.
"Insurable interest comes down to that fundamental concept of life insurance — reliance on income," says Jack Dolan, vice president of public affairs at the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). "To buy life insurance on another person, you must rely on them for income. And that covers a wide gamut of human relationships: spouses, friends, business partners, charitable donors, debtors and more."