There is a long overused cliché: The only thing certain and life is death and taxes. When it comes to death and dying, there are some interesting estate and probate facts worth pondering.
The Origin of “Last Will and Testament”
One of the more interesting estate and probate facts is the origin of the term “last will and testament.” Historically, will was utilized to distribute real estate when a person died. Testament was the term associated with distributing personal property after death.
Estate and Probate Facts: Longest Will Probated
The longest will ever probated by a court was in the United Kingdom. The estate itself was rather small, having a value of about $100,000. The will ran 1,066 pages and almost 96,000 words.
Estate and Probate Facts: Shortest Wills in Modern Times
There are two wills tied for the shortest in modern times, one written in India, the other in Germany. One will read: “All to wife.” The other will read: “All to son.”
The Actor and the Skull
An actor named Del Close includes a provision in his will that donated his skull to Chicago’s Goodman Theatre. His intention was to play Yorick in the Shakespeare play Hamlet after his death. (Yorick appears only as a skull in the iconic play.) In the end, no one would agree to remove the head from the dead actor’s body and the bequest remained unfulfilled.
The Oldest Will in History
The oldest known will in history dates back to 2548 B.C. in Egypt. A man named Uah left all of his property to his wife Teta.
Living Wills – Something Relatively New
Although wills have been around for centuries, living wills are of fairly recent origin. The living will was first permitted in the United States in the state of California in 1976.
Estate and Probate Facts: Howard Hughes
One of the wealthiest – and arguably most unusual – Americans in recent history died without a will. The lack of a will caused considerable chaos in the aftermath of the eccentric billionaire’s passing.
Retain an Estate Attorney
Perhaps the most important estate and probate fact is the need to retain a qualified, experienced estate and probate attorney. Proactive estate planning is the best course to take to ensure a person’s wishes are carried out at the time of death.