In the past, a Will was generally used by a testator to distribute real estate, otherwise known as ‘heritable property’ – items such as buildings and land, things which could not be moved.
A testament was drawn up to distribute a testator’s moveable property – belongings, cash etc.
Today, a Last Will and Testament will do the job in one document and providing certain guidelines are followed any adult can, and should, make one. George Ide’s solicitors for Wills in Chichester offer expert estate planning guidance to clients throughout West Sussex, Hampshire and across the South of England.
The shortest Will on record consists of only four Hindi characters and was written by Bimla Rishi on February 9 1995. The characters translated as “all to son”. Running a close second to this is the Will of German businessman Karl Tausch who wrote the Czech words “Vse zene” on January 19 1967 meaning “all to wife”. For a Will to be valid in England and Wales, it must be witnessed and signed by two people and, if they are to inherit, a spouse or child cannot act as a witness. This is a major stumbling point for many who draw up their will without the advice and guidance of a lawyer, because the Will is then invalidated under UK inheritance law.
The longest Will ever filed for probate is believed to be that of English woman Frederica Evelyn Stillwell Cook who died, at age 68, on 9 January 1925. Her Last Will and Testament document consisted of 1066 pages written in four leather-bound volumes and presented for probate at Somerset House in London. Almost all of Mrs Cook’s bequests were to her children, but particularly interesting clauses were added which included the instruction that her two executors should burn her diaries and that her age was not to be inscribed on her gravestone.
The oldest recorded Wills are believed to be that of two ancient Egyptians called Ankh-ren and his brother Uah. Both Wills were written in hieroglyphics at around 1797 BC. They were found by archaeologist William Mathew “Flinders” Petrie in 1890 and offered proof to legal historians that the practice of distribution of property and naming guardians for children etc, had been occurring for thousands of years. The Will of Uah had also been witnessed by two signatories, both scribes.
Coming right up to date, a 2011 survey by Goldsmiths at the University of London, revealed that one in ten Britons is now including details of online passwords into their Will, so that personal data on sites such as Facebook and the digital photo storage facility Flickr can be accessed after their death. Solicitors for wills have noted that increasingly people wish to protect information about themselves held online and the subject of digital inheritance is now a regular topic in estate planning discussions.
To speak to an experienced solicitor for Wills in Chichester why not call George Ide today. Our team can offer help and guidance relating to all issues relating to estate planning, including inheritance tax planning through to the drafting a legally binding Last Will and Testament.
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