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Article Title

WILLS-INTEGRATION

Abstract

The requirement of formal attestation in the English Statute of Frauds of 1678 and the Statute of Wills of 1837 gave rise for the first time to the necessity of placing all testamentary dispositions in a single document. Prior to these statutes, all that had been necessary was that wills be in writing and exhibit the testamentary intent of the author. Therefore, plural writings, however inconsistent or fragmentary they might have been, were necessarily parts of the will to be given effect. No rules for integration were needed under such loose requirements of execution. Attestation under the Statute of Frauds and the Statute of Wills caused integration to become an indispensable element in the probate of separate sheets of paper as the will of a testator, though no express legislative statement required such integration. This same requirement of formal attestation in America has compelled the integration of testamentary acts. It remains, however, universally permissible to write a will on several separate pages. There is in no state a requirement that a will be written on a single sheet, although the rules applied to integration vary widely. It would seem clear that a better practice would be for the testator to sign each page, but it is not necessary that either he or the witnesses do so. In fact, wills have been upheld where the attestation clause and the witnesses' signatures were on different sheets from that of the testator's signature, even where space enough existed on the sheet signed by the testator for the attestation clause and the signature of the witnesses; or where the dispositive clauses of the will and the testator's signature were on entirely separate pieces of paper.

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