Giving or Leaving–What is a Will?

The question raised by the title of this essay should be essentially as simple as that: Do you want to give property, so that, having given it, it is no longer yours, or do you want to leave it behind at your death, directing who will receive it at that time? The statement of that issue suggests obvious differences in the consequences of inter vivos and testamentary dispositions. Most people also understand that a testamentary disposition invokes the elaborate machinery involved in the administration of a testator’s estate, which confers special rights in the creditors and the spouse of the decedent.