Testacy and Intestacy: The Dynamics of Wills and Demographic Status

45 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2010 Last revised: 12 Sep 2010

See all articles by Alyssa A. DiRusso

Alyssa A. DiRusso

Samford University - Cumberland School of Law

Date Written: January 12, 2010


In this Article, I seek to investigate several questions relating to testacy and intestacy. First, who is intestate? Are there demographic characteristics that predict intestacy and is there a class divide among whom the law serves? (Statistical analyses of original empirical data are used to shed light on these issues.) Next, does intestacy matter - what are the consequences of intestacy? Finally, what does intestacy mean or signify? On a theoretical and abstract level, how can we characterize intestacy - how do we define it, and how does it define us?

These questions, when carefully considered, lead to a theory: that there is a connection between hierarchical socio-demographic roles and the legal status of testacy or intestacy that parallels these roles. Specifically, I compare the dynamics created by testacy/intestacy and analogize to the roles created by men/women and whites/non-whites, and argue that the overlap between the individuals who fill each status role is not coincidental. Finally, I develop the theory that when hierarchical status is created by law, there may be a connection to social status in filling those roles. More explicitly, when we identify areas of the law that create the dominant/non-dominant dynamic we tend to see in race and sex relationships, we should scrutinize the law to determine whether it is a reflection of - or possibly a contributor to - the dynamics of race and sex.

Keywords: wills, intestacy, estates, race, sex, gender, empirical

JEL Classification: K39

Suggested Citation

DiRusso, Alyssa A., Testacy and Intestacy: The Dynamics of Wills and Demographic Status (January 12, 2010). Quinnipiac Probate Law Journal, Vol. 23, No. 1, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1535459

Alyssa A. DiRusso (Contact Author)

Samford University - Cumberland School of Law ( email )

800 Lakeshore Dr.
Birmingham, AL 35229
United States

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