Testamentsformen: »Willkür« oder Ausdruck einer Rechtskultur? (Testamentary Form Requirements: Arbitrary or Expression of a Legal Culture?)
Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law
January 10, 2012
Rabel Journal of Comparative and International Private Law (RabelsZ), Vol. 76, No. 3, pp. 471-508, July 2012
Max Planck Private Law Research Paper No. 12/3
In the history of European private law the law of succession used to play a central role. This is different today. In most modern legal systems, comparatively little scholarly attention is devoted to it; in some of them it is not even a mandatory subject of legal training in the universities. Widely, the law of succession is regarded as static and somewhat boring. In addition, it is taken to be deeply rooted in fundamental cultural values of a society and, therefore, not suitable for comparative study and even less suitable for legal harmonization. The present article challenges these views, as far as the law of testamentary formalities is concerned. It traces the comparative history of the three main types of form requirements: writing in the testator’s own hand, reliance on witnesses, and involvement of a court of law or notary. It is argued that the differences between the legal systems found today do not reflect cultural differences and can, indeed, often be regarded as rather accidental; that the comparative study of a large variety of issues concerning testamentary formalities can indeed be meaningful and enlightening; that in a number of legal systems the law relating to testamentary formalities has been changed more often than many parts of the supposedly much more dynamic law of obligations; that the international will constitutes an unhappy compromise between the will-types found in the various national legal systems and that it is, therefore, not surprising that the Washington Convention has been so remarkably unsuccessful.
Please note that this is an article published in German.
The post-print version of the article will be available for download as of July 2014.
Note: Downloadable document is in German.
Keywords: succession, law of, form requirements for wills, wills and will-making, law and culture, holograph wills, witnessed wills, notarial willsAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: January 21, 2012 ; Last revised: September 2, 2012
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