Will Writing and Bequest Motives: Early 20th Century Irish Evidence

72 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2006

Date Written: November 2006


This paper develops a simple model of the decision to write a will prior to death and tests the implications of the model using data from Ireland prior to the advent of state provided old age support. The model assumes that individuals write wills in order to change the distribution of their assets from the distribution that would occur in the absence of a will and that individuals incur will writing costs. The model leads to the predictions that individuals whose desired distribution differs most dramatically from the default and those who face the lowest costs will be the most likely to write wills. A data set that matches individual Irish estate records from 1901 to 1905 to household records from the 1901 Irish Census is used to test these implications. I find that age, wealth, and landholding influence will writing.

Keywords: Bequests, will-writing, altruism, strategic bequests

JEL Classification: N33, J14, E21

Suggested Citation

McGranahan, Leslie, Will Writing and Bequest Motives: Early 20th Century Irish Evidence (November 2006). FRB of Chicago Working Paper No. 2006-18, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=952330 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.952330

Leslie McGranahan (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago ( email )

230 South LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60604
United States
312-322-5023 (Phone)
312-322-2357 (Fax)

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