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A formal declaration on how a person wants his or her possessions to be disposed of after death. The capacity to make a will is enjoyed by everyone who has the use of reason and the ability to bequeath according to civil or ecclesiastical law. Some of the moral issues affecting wills are: 1. the duty to make a will under certain circumstances, e.g., when serious quarrels would follow otherwise among the heirs; 2. the testator who makes a will must leave part of his possessions to his nearest kin, especially the wife and children, who need assistance; 3. on acceptance of the inheritance, heirs are obliged to pay all debts and legacies charged against the estate; 4. the details of the will are to be carried out according to the expressed or even implicit intentions of the testator. Moreover, as long as a person is alive and of sound mind, he may revoke a testament at any time, although conditioned in this matter by the provisions of the civil law.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.