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Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. This article needs additional citations for verification. This article possibly contains original research. The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. A will or testament is a legal document by which a person, the testator, expresses their wishes as to how their property is to be distributed at death, and names one or more persons, the executor, to manage the estate until its final distribution. Thus, the word « will » validly applies to both personal and real property. Throughout most of the world, disposal of an estate has been a matter of social custom.
According to Plutarch, the written will was invented by Solon. Originally, it was a device intended solely for men who died without an heir. The English phrase « will and testament » is derived from a period in English law when Old English and Law French were used side by side for maximum clarity. Other such legal doublets include « breaking and entering » and « peace and quiet ». The conception of the freedom of disposition by will, familiar as it is in modern England and the United States, both generally considered common law systems, is by no means universal. In fact, complete freedom is the exception rather than the rule. Advocates for gays and lesbians have pointed to the inheritance rights of spouses as desirable for same-sex couples as well, through same-sex marriage or civil unions.