With the new year approaching, it is customary to turn one’s attention to the year ahead in the making of resolutions.  In today’s blog though, instead of looking forward, I thought that I would look back – waaaaaayyyyy back – to the oldest Last Will and Testament.

The oldest last will and testament was discovered in 1890 by William Petrie, an English Egyptologist.  While exploring the pyramids in Kahun, Egypt, Petrie came across a parchment/papyrus from 1797 BC that was determined to be the last will of Ankr-ren.  The will was written in hieroglyphics.

Ankr-ren’s will left all of his property to his brother, Uah (who was stated to be a priest).

Uah’s last will was also discovered.  Uah’s will gifts the property he receives from Ankr-ren to his wife, Teta, forbids his wife from demolishing any house received by Ankr-ren, and names a guardian for his child.  The last will also had two witnesses.

Remarkably, or perhaps not, the terms of these ancient wills bear so many resemblances to modern day wills requirements found in Ontario’s Succession Law Reform Act.  For instance, they include the ability to freely gift property, to appoint a custodian/guardian for a minor child, and include two witnesses.

Noah Weisberg

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