History of Wills

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Following on from my article last month about Trusts being used back in Roman times, I decided to have a look at the Roman Influence on English Law in the area of Wills.

My reference source is Wikipedia


Wills were in place back in Ancient Greece and Rome with a range of conditions, including being a citizen not a slave, men who had arrived at 20 years of age (for women, and men under that age they were not permitted to dispose by will of more than one medimnus of Barley), and that they should not be under imprisonment or other constraint.

The development of Roman law furthered the modern understanding of Wills.  The Roman law of wills has had considerable effect upon English Law.  A Roman testator could not, unless a soldier, die partly testate, and partly intestate.  The whole property may be disposed of in England, but it was not so in Rome.  The Roman will spoke from the time of making; the English speaks from the time of death.

The longest known legal will is that of Englishwoman Frederica Evelyn Stilwell Cook. Probated in 1925, it was 1,066 pages, and had to be bound in 4 volumes; her estate was worth $100,000. The shortest known legal wills are those of Bimla Rishi of Delhi, India (“all to son”) and Karl Tausch of Hesse, Germany, (“all to wife”) both containing only two words in the language they were written in (Hindi and Czech respectively) The shortest will is of Shripad Krishnarao Vaidya of Nagpur, Maharashtra consisting 5 letters as, “HEIR’S”

Related:  12 Important Lessons All Property Investors Should Remember in 2017


What is a Will?

According to the NSW Trustee & Guardian, it is a legal document that clearly sets out your wishes for the distribution of your assets after your death.  Having a clear, legally valid and up to date Will is the best way to ensure that your assets are protected and distributed according to your wishes.

And finally, 45% of all Australian’s do not have a valid will.



Mark Krywienko - New Clients Manager, Chan & Naylor Australia

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