( Originally Published 1918 )
The right to make a will is a legal right, not a natural. Its enforcement depends wholly upon the law. All living men have a natural right to manage or dispose of property acquired by their own efforts ; but when the brain and the hand no longer operate, this right ceases, and the disposal of property by will becomes a matter of law.
A Will is a statement, in legal form, of the disposition a person wishes to have made of his property after his death.
The person making a will is called the testator if a man, the testatrix if a woman.
An Executor is one appointed by the will to carry out its provisions and settle the estate. (Feminine, executrix.)
An Administrator is a person appointed by the court to settle the estate where there is no will.
Witnesses.—Great care should be taken in selecting witnesses. They should (if possible) be acquainted with the testator, and thoroughly understand his mental condition at the time when the will is executed.
Any bequest of property made to a subscribing witness is invalid, although the integrity of the will otherwise is not affected thereby. In some states, however, if the will can be proved without the testimony of such witness his bequest is valid. In some states the bequests to an heir who is a witness may be valid.
Three witnesses are required in Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Vermont. None is required in Louisiana, but in that state the will must be entirely written, dated and signed by the testator.
The residence of a witness should be placed, immediately after his signature.
A devise or bequest given in a will to a sub-scribing witness or to the husband or wife of such witness is void in every state unless the will is otherwise legally attested or the devisee or legatee is an heir of the testator. The competency of the witness, however, is not affected.
A will is not void because made on Sunday or holiday. The witnesses should sign in the actual presence of the testator and where he can see them sign. Minors and married women, if other-wise competent, may be witnesses.