A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his/her estate and provides for the transfer of his/her property at death. For the devolution of property not disposed of by will, see inheritance and intestacy.
In the strictest sense, a “will” has historically been limited to real property while “testament” applies only to dispositions of personal property (thus giving rise to the popular title of the document as “Last Will and Testament”), though this distinction is seldom observed today. A will may also create a testamentary trust that is effective only after the death of the testator.
Any person over the age of majority and of sound mind (having appropriate mental capacity) can draft his or her own will with or without the aid of a lawyer. Additional requirements may vary, depending on the jurisdiction, but generally include the following requirements:
The testator must clearly identify himself or herself as the maker of the will, and that a will is being made; this is commonly called “publication” of the will, and is typically satisfied by the words “last will and testament” on the face of the document.
The testator should declare that he or she revokes all previous wills and codicils. Otherwise, a subsequent will revokes earlier wills and codicils only to the extent to which they are inconsistent. However, if a subsequent will is completely inconsistent with an earlier one, the earlier will is considered completely revoked by implication.
The testator may demonstrate that he or she has the capacity to dispose of his or her property (“sound mind”), and does so freely and willingly.
The testator must sign and date the will, usually in the presence of at least two disinterested witnesses (persons who are not beneficiaries). There may be extra witnesses, these are called “supernumerary” witnesses, if there is a question as to an interested-party conflict. Some jurisdictions, notably Pennsylvania, have long abolished any requirement for witnesses. In the United States, Louisiana requires both attestation by two witnesses as well as notarization by a notary public. “Holographic” or handwritten wills generally require no witnesses to be valid.
If witnesses are designated to receive property under the will they are witnesses to, this has the effect, in many jurisdictions, of either (i) disallowing them to receive under the will, or (ii) invalidating their status as a witness. In a growing number of states in the United States, however, an interested party is only an improper witness as to the clauses that benefit him or her (for instance, in Illinois).
The testator’s signature must be placed at the end of the will. If this is not observed, any text following the signature will be ignored, or the entire will may be invalidated if what comes after the signature is so material that ignoring it would defeat the testator’s intentions.
One or more beneficiaries (devisees, legatees) must generally be clearly stated in the text, but some jurisdictions allow a valid will that merely revokes a previous will, revokes a disposition in a previous will, or names an executor.
Kentucky was the first region west of the Allegheny Mountains to be settled by American pioneers. James Harrod established the first permanent settlement at Harrodsburg in 1774; the following year Daniel Boone, who had explored the area in 1767, blazed the Wilderness Trail through the Cumberland Gap and founded Boonesboro.
Politically, the Kentucky region was originally part of Virginia, but statehood was gained in 1792. Gen. Anthony Wayne’s victory in 1794 at Fallen Timbers in Ohio marked the end of Native American resistance in the area and secured the Kentucky frontier.
As a slaveholding state with a considerable abolitionist population, Kentucky was caught in the middle during the Civil War, supplying both Union and Confederate forces with thousands of troops.
Kentucky prides itself on producing some of the nation’s best tobacco, horses, and whiskey. Corn, soybeans, wheat, fruit, hogs, cattle, and dairy products are among the agricultural items produced.
Among the manufactured items produced in the state are motor vehicles, furniture, aluminum ware, brooms, apparel, lumber products, machinery, textiles, and iron and steel products. Kentucky also produces significant amounts of petroleum, natural gas, fluorspar, clay, and stone. However, coal accounts for 85% of the total mineral income.
Louisville is famous for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, and the Bluegrass country around Lexington is the home of some of the world’s finest race horses. Other attractions are Mammoth Cave, the George S. Patton, Jr., Military Museum at Fort Knox, and Old Fort Harrod State Park.