Saturday, February 19, 2011

Presidents' Wills and Estates

My virtual prowling on Presidents' Day weekend led to some fun facts for future lawyers. For example, did you know that Abraham Lincoln, a prominent attorney with years of litigation experience, died without a will? After Lincoln's death, his estate, including what would become the Lincoln Papers, was administered by U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Davis at the request of Lincoln's son.

On the other hand, George Washington, with no formal legal training, hand wrote his entire 29-page will, which was detailed and provided for life estates. Stating in the will that "no professional character" had been consulted, he admitted that it had occupied many leisure hours. Perhaps Washington's experience as a county court justice and a state legislator provided the requisite knowledge for the task. The story of President Washington's will is told by the Fairfax County Circuit Court, its custodian. A facsimile of the original will, with some background and a transcription, is provided by the University of Virginia, the home of the George Washington Papers.
Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

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