By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

In 1890, a famous English archaeologist named William Flinders Petrie discovered the world’s oldest last will and testament among the Egyptian pyramids. This document was written on a parchment/papyrus paper like substance and was originally dated to have been created 2500 BC. It was later determined that this will was actually created in 1797 BC and refers to the creator of the Will whose name is Ankr-ren. It is also interesting to note that there were two witnesses to this Will.

Ankr-ren described himself to be a devoted servant of the superintendent of works where the pyramids were built. In his Will, Ankr-ren gives all of his property to his brother Uah, with instructions that forbids Uah from demolishing any of the houses given through his Will.

Prior to this time legal historians believed that no society had any specific last will and testament mechanisms in place allowing for the distribution of money and property after a person died. Rather it was believed that all property automatically transferred to the oldest living son in each family. There are a couple of good lessons that we can learn from this oldest known last will and testament.

First, it is important that your estate planning be done correctly so that it will be valid and enforceable. In this instance Ankr-ren completed his last will and testament by having two witnesses. There is a similar requirement under current Idaho law to make a written last will and testament valid. Without proper Witnesses a will is not considered valid unless it is a holographic will.

The second lesson to be learned from this document is that you are allowed to give your property away to whoever you choose. In the example above, this ancient Egyptian gave his property to his brother. Likewise, you are able to choose whoever you want to be a recipient of your estate after you have passed away. The only requirement is that your gifts and bequests must be unambiguous and clear in order for the law to carry out your intentions.

The final lesson to be learned from this story is the importance of finding the right place to store your last will and testament. In the story above, the Will of Ankr-ren was so well stored that it lasted for several millennia. It’s unlikely that your last will and testament will need to last this long. However, it is important that you put your estate planning documents in a place where they is safe and accessible. It is important that your estate planning documents can easily be found by your family when they are needed.


If you do not have an estate plan in place, we can help. When it comes to estate planning or probate you should never try to do it alone. If you have questions for yourself or for your family and loved ones, call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at lve@racinelaw.net. We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.


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