Document Type


Publication Date



An adult can execute her last will whenever she wants She can do so on her eighteenth birthday or she can wait until she is on her deathbed She can also execute her last will at any point between these two extremes While the timing of testation is up to the individual testator her choice has important implications for the law These implications have been recognized primarily in the realm of willinterpretation as when testation occurs can affect how courts attribute meaning to a will's words By contrast the implications of testation's timing for the law of willauthentication have been overlookedWillauthentication is the process by which the law separates purported wills that testators intended to serve as evidence of their estate plans from those that decedents did not want to be given legal effect upon their deaths This Article argues that the extent to which the testator's intent will be fulfilled if a correct willauthentication decision is made should be an important consideration for policymakers when crafting the law of willauthentication Additionally the Article argues that the timing of testation can provide policymakers evidence of the likelihood that the testator's intent will be carried out if a will is correctly authenticated By explaining how the timing of testation should inform how the law authenticates wills this Article provides policymakers a fresh perspective through which to evaluate potential reforms of the lawIn addition to highlighting the theoretical implications of testation's timing this Article provides an empirical analysis of testation's timing which considers an original data set of over eighteen hundred wills that were probated in Hamilton County Ohio in 2014 By comparing the date of execution of these wills with the date on which the testator died this analysis provides a glimpse of when testation in fact occurs Ultimately when considered alongside the theoretical implications of testation's timing this original empirical analysis can assist policymakers in crafting the law of willauthentication

First Page