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In law, a formal declaration, usually in the form of an executed document, of a person's wishes regarding the disposal of his or her property after death. It is valid if it meets the formalities of the law, which usually requires that it be witnessed. It may be considered invalid if, among other instances, the testator was mentally incapable of disposing of his or her property, if it imposes unreasonable or cruel demands as a condition of inheritance, or if the testator did not have clear title to the bequeathed assets. Any party who contests a will must bring the claim within a time specified by statute and must bear the burden of proof in demonstrating that the will is faulty. See alsoprobate.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on will, visit Britannica.com.