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in law, document expressing the wishes of a person (known as a testator) concerning the disposition of her propertyproperty,
rights to the enjoyment of things of economic value, whether the enjoyment is exclusive or shared, present or prospective. The rightful possession of such rights is called ownership.
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 after her death. If a person dies intestate, i.e., without a valid will, statutes determine how her property is divided up among her relatives; if no relatives can be found, the property escheats (i.e., goes to the government). Wills are made to vary the statutory scheme (e.g., to give a crippled child more money than a healthy child). The will may provide for outright grants or for the establishment of truststrust,
in law, arrangement whereby property legally owned by one person is administered for the benefit of another. Three parties are ordinarily needed for the relation to arise: the settlor, who bequeaths or deeds the property for another's benefit; the trustee, in whose hands
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. No particular form of words is necessary in a will, only a clear expression of intent. Statutes usually protect the surviving spouse and children, prescribing for them a set proportion of the estate whatever the provisions of the will. Wills ordinarily must be in writing, but in certain strictly defined circumstances (e.g., in the case of soldiers or sailors in combat) the law may recognize an oral will as reported by a witness. Written wills must be subscribed (i.e., signed below the complete text) by the testator and must bear the signatures of two (or, in some jurisdictions, three) people who witnessed the testator's signature. A person has capacity to make a will only when he is of sound mind and is not unduly influenced by an interested party. Persons below a certain age (usually ranging from 18 to 21) are deemed not to have the capacity. All objections to a will must be made at the probateprobate
, in law, the certification by a court that a will is valid. Probate, which is governed by various statutes in the several states of the United States, is required before the will can take effect.
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, which precedes the distribution (administration) of the property. Real and personal property were once passed on by two different systems, but today only remnants of the division remain (e.g., in separate sets of terms). In England the Statute of Wills (1540) lifted many restrictions on the use of wills and permitted the testator to dispose of real property by will. See heirheir,
person designated by law to succeed to the ownership of property of another if that owner does not make a contrary disposition of it by will. A person who takes property left to him by will is not an heir but a legatee.
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in philosophy and psychology, term used to describe that which is alleged to stimulate the motivation of purposeful activity. It is characteristic of the will that it can be observed only in oneself and can be attributed to others only by inference from their behavior. There is no generally accepted explanation in psychology for the apparent freedom people enjoy to do what they will, i.e., to originate the stimuli necessary to initiate a course of action. Until recently the psychological discussions of the will have been closely related to the philosophical. Disagreements have been extreme. One approach has been the doctrine of determinism, which denies the reality of the will. Another type simply accepts the will—the motive power of the personality—as the faculty or function of the person. This idea is generally based on intuitive grounds and is associated with Plato, Aristotle, Lucretius, St. Thomas Aquinas, René Descartes, and Immanuel Kant. Others have considered it the externalized result of the interaction of conflicting elements. These include Baruch Spinoza, G. W. von Leibniz, David Hume, J. G. Herbart, Wilhelm Wundt, Herbert Spencer, and Hugo Münsterberg. Still others have considered the will to be the manifestation of the personality striving to accomplish its purposes. Among these are St. Augustine, Duns Scotus, Thomas Hobbes, Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, William McDougall, and John Dewey. Modern psychology has tended to consider the concept of the will as an unscientific principle. The problems involved in dealing with it are largely absorbed in other areas of investigation, such as the psychology of adjustment, the study of unconscious motivation, the concept of attention, and the influence of endocrine balance.



the capacity to choose a goal and to make the internal efforts essential to its realization. Will is a specific act that cannot be reduced to consciousness and activity as such. Not every conscious action, even in connection with overcoming obstacles to a goal, is an act of will. The main aspect of an act of will is the realization of the value criterion of the goal and its correspondence to principles and norms of personality. For the subject of will it is not the feeling “I want” that is characteristic but “it is necessary” or “I must.” In realizing an act of will, a person resists the power of immediate needs and impulsive desires.

Structurally, volitional behavior breaks down into the making of a decision and its realization. If the goal of volitional action does not coincide with an immediate need, the making of a decision is often accompanied by what in psychological literature is called the conflict of motives (act of choice). The decision that has been made is realized under various psychological conditions, beginning with those in which it is sufficient to make a decision and then the action occurs as if by itself (for example, the action of someone who sees a drowning child) and ending with those actions in which the realization of volitional behavior stands in opposition to some strong need, which results in the necessity of special efforts to overcome this need and to achieve the planned goal (manifestation of will power).

Different interpretations of will in the history of philosophy and psychology are connected primarily with the antithesis of determinism and indeterminism; the first regards will as being determined from without (by physical, psychological, or social causes or by divine predestination in supernatural determinism) whereas the second believes will to be an autonomous self-realizing force. In the doctrines of voluntarism will appears as the primary and initial basis of the world process and, in particular, of human activity. The divergence in philosophical approaches to the problem of will is reflected in psychological theories of will, which can be divided into two groups: First, the “autogenetic” theories of will, which regard will as something specific and as something that cannot be reduced to any other processes, proposed by W. Wundt, N. Ach, and J. Lindworsky in Germany, and others. Second, the “heterogenetic” theories, defining will as some-thing secondary and the product of some other psychological factors and phenomena, that is, a function of thought or conception (the intellectual theories of will held by many representatives of the school of J. F. Herbart, by C. Ehrenfels in Austria, by E. Meumann in Germany, and by others), of the senses (H. Ebbinhaus in Germany and E. Bleuler in Switzerland), or of a complex of sensations (associationism).

Soviet psychology, basing itself on dialectical and historical materialism, sees will as being socially and historically conditioned. In Soviet psychology the fundamental current in the study of will is the study of the philogenesis and ontogenesis of voluntary actions (derived from will) and the higher psychic functions, such as voluntary perception and memorization. The voluntary nature of action, as was demonstrated by the Soviet scientist L. S. Vygotskii, is the result of the mediating role of implements and sign systems in the interrelationships of man and his environment. In the process of a child’s psychic development the original in-voluntary processes of perception, memory, and so forth take on a voluntary character and become self-regulating. There is also a parallel development of the capacity to maintain a goal. Work on set theory by the Soviet psychologist D. N. Uznadze and his school has played an important role in the study of will.

The problem of the inculcation of will has great significance for educators. In connection with this, different methods are being worked out whose goal is to develop the capacity for the sustained effort essential to achievement. Will is closely connected with the character of an individual and plays an important role in the process of its formation and remolding. In accordance with a widespread point of view, character is as much a basis of volitional processes as the intellect is the basis of thought processes and temperament, of emotional processes.


Will and emotions. Like other kinds of psychic activity, will is a reflex process in its physiological basis and pattern of completion. The evolutionary precondition of voluntary behavior is the so-called freedom reflex in animals—an instinctual reaction, an adequate stimulus for which is the forced limitation of movement. “Without it [the freedom reflex],” wrote I. P. Pavlov, “any small obstacle that an animal might face in his path would completely disrupt the course of his life” (Poln. sobr. soch., vol. 3, book 1, 1951, p. 343). According to the data of the Soviet scientist V. P. Protopopov and other researchers, it is precisely the nature of the obstacle that determines the sorting out of behavior from which an adaptive habit is formed in higher animals. Thus will as activity conditiond by the need to overcome an obstacle possesses a certain independence in relation to the motive that first initiated the behavior. Selective inhibition of the response of overcoming obstacles (“hypnosis of animals”), as well as the specific action by certain drugs on this reaction, allows us to speak of the presence of a specific brain mechanism that realizes the freedom reflex in its Pavlovian sense. In the mechanisms of human volitional effort, a large part is played by the system of speech signals (L. S. Vygotskii, A. N. Leont’ev, and A. R. Luriia). In human goal-directed behavior a competing need often becomes an obstacle. Then, the dominance of one of the motives will be determined not only by its relative strength but by the beginning of activity in relation to which the subdominant motive is an obstacle, an “internal hindrance.” Such a situation is encountered in those circumstances where it is customary to speak of the voluntary suppression of emotion or, more precisely, of the needs that condition these emotions. Being closely connected with the individual’s actions, consciousness, and emotions, will represents an independent form of his psychic life. While emotions ensure the mobilization of energy re-sources and the transition to those forms of response that are guided by a wide range of presumably significant signals (emotional dominants), will inhibits the extreme generalization of emotional excitement and facilitates the maintaining of the initially chosen goal. In its turn, volitional behavior can be a source of positive emotions before the final goal has been achieved, owing to the gratification of the need for overcoming obstacles. That is why the most productive combination for human activity is a strong will and an optimal level of emotional stimulation.



Basov, M. la. Volia kak predmet funktsional’noi psikhologii. Petrograd, 1922.
Rubinshtein, S. L. Osnovy obshchei psikhologii, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1946. Chapter 14.
Vekker, L. M. “K postanovke problemy voli.” Voprosy psikhologii, 1957, no. 2.
Kornilov, K. N. Volia i ee vospitanie. Moscow, 1957.
Zaporozhets, A. V. Razvitieproizvornykhdvizhenii. Moscow, 1960.
Selivanov, V. I. “Problema voli v sovetskoi psikhologii.” Voprosy psikhologii, 1964, no. 1.
Leont’ev, A. N. Problemy razvitiia psikhiki, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1965.
Chkhartishvili, Sh. N. “Problema voli v psikhologii.” Voprosy psikhologii, 1967, no. 4.
Lindworsky, J. Der Wille, seine Erscheinung und seine Beherrschung, 3rd ed. Leipzig, 1923.
Blondel, C. “Les volitions.” In Traite de psychologie. Edited by G. Dumas, vol. 2. Paris, 1924.
Lewin, K. Vorsatz, Wille und Bedürfnis. Berlin, 1926.



in law:

(1) The element that determines the essence of a given type of legal system, insofar as the legal system is always the will of the politically and economically ruling class of a society expressed in the laws and other legal rules that are established and sanctioned by the government.

(2) The declaration of the intention of the parties in various relationships that are formed in society between collectives, organizations, or citizens. When regulated by law, these relationships are legal relationships. The declaration of intention of the parties to legal relationships may be lawful or unlawful. Lawful declarations of intention are directed at establishing, changing, or terminating legal relationships; they may be in the form of juridical acts, the definition of planned economy goals, the conclusion of contracts, the promulgation of orders, regulations, or standard rules, or the filing of declarations and complaints by citizens. Formal legal capacity and transactional capacity—the legally recognized possibility and capacity to acquire rights and assume obligations by one’s acts—have great significance for lawful declarations of intention. The law guarantees the conditions for free, un-restricted declaration of intention and determines, therefore, the conditions for the invalidity of legal acts in case of fraud, coercion, misrepresentation, or the performance of legal acts by persons of immature or defective will (for example, minors or mentally ill persons).

Unlawful declarations of intention are actions of individuals or organizations that violate the rules of conduct established by law. These violations may consist of ignoring a legal prohibition, failing to fulfill a certain legal obligation, or abusing one’s right. Crimes, the violations of the law most dangerous to society, entail application of criminal responsibility. Acts are not considered crimes if they are performed by persons of immature will (for example, minors) or persons with defects resulting from mental illness or other causes, who are not capable of understanding what they do or of controlling their actions.




the instructions of a citizen with respect to his property in the event of his death, given in the manner prescribed by law. The will as a means for disposing of property is known to various legal systems.

In the USSR every citizen may bequeath his property or a part of it to one or several persons, irrespective of whether they are his statutory heirs, as well as to the state or to particular state, cooperative, or public organizations. In his will the testator may disinherit one, several, or all statutory heirs; however, the law makes the following exception to this rule: minor children, children unable to work (including adopted children), and certain others unable to work—the spouse, parents (including adoptive parents), and dependents of the deceased inherit not less than two-thirds of their statutory share (the so-called compulsory share) regardless of the contents of the will. If the will refers only to a part of the property of an estate, the part not included in the will is divided among the statutory heirs, including those to whom property was bequeathed under the will.

A special procedure has been established for the disposition of citizens’ deposits in state savings banks or in the State Bank of the USSR. A citizen who has such a deposit may give instructions directly to a savings bank or the State Bank regarding payment of the deposit to some person or to the government in the event of his death. If such instructions exist, the deposit is not included in the estate and the rules of inheritance do not apply to it, including that of the obligatory share. If instructions regarding the deposit are contained in the will, the outcome is the same.

The will must be in written form, with an indication of the place and time it was drawn up, and it must be personally signed by the testator and notarized. At the time of the drawing up and signing of the will, the testator must be legally competent. If a testator, because of physical defects, illness, or other causes, cannot personally sign the will, it may be signed by another citizen at the request of a testator in the presence of a notary public, with the indication of the reasons for which the testator was unable to sign the will himself. The law provides that in some instances the will may be certified not by a notary but by other official persons, such as the commander of a military unit, the captain of a ship, the chief physician of a hospital, and the head of an expedition. The testator may at any time modify or revoke a will and draw up a new will.



The word will is used in connection with acts and actions required of the owner or of the architect/engineer; it is used by the owner or purchaser as a self-imposed requirement; denotes the information the owner will supply, documents the owner will review, and approvals the owner will issue––all at the proper time.


a. the declaration of a person's wishes regarding the disposal of his or her property after death
b. a revocable instrument by which such wishes are expressed
References in classic literature ?
WHILE leading the way upstairs, she recommended that I should hide the candle, and not make a noise; for her master had an odd notion about the chamber she would put me in, and never let anybody lodge there willingly.
He stayed there with me to dinner - if I were to say willingly, I should not half express how readily and gaily.
In my confidence in my own resources, I would willingly have taken Herbert's expenses on myself; but Herbert was proud, and I could make no such proposal to him.
But, father,'' said Rebecca, ``you seemed to give the gold to Prince John willingly.
Having travelled some days, we were met by the King's brother, to whom, by the advice of Chec Furt, whose intent in following us was to squeeze all he could from us; we presented some pieces of Chinese workmanship, such as cases of boxes, a standish, and some earthenware, together with several pieces of painted calico, which were so much more agreeable, that he desired some other pieces instead of our Chinese curiosities; we willingly made the exchange.
Because there is nothing proportionate between the armed and the unarmed; and it is not reasonable that he who is armed should yield obedience willingly to him who is unarmed, or that the unarmed man should be secure among armed servants.
Very willingly, if it be necessary to reassure you," answered the minister, and Mazarin, who was delighted to get off so cheaply, led the way, in high spirits, to the corridor and opened the door.
I knew that our worthy captain, who felt, such a paternal solicitude for the welfare of his crew, would not willingly consent that one of his best hands should encounter the perils of a sojourn among the natives of a barbarous island; and I was certain that in the event of my disappearance, his fatherly anxiety would prompt him to offer, by way of a reward, yard upon yard of gaily printed calico for my apprehension.
My Dear Brother since you were five years old, I entirely acquit you of ever having willingly contributed to the satisfaction of your Father.
It was a stagnation in which, full of pity for him, Anne of Austria would not have willingly left him; but in order to attract the attention of the sick man by some brilliant stroke, she must have either won or lost.
The same day a customer came in, and the shoes suited him so well that he willingly paid a price higher than usual for them; and the poor shoemaker, with the money, bought leather enough to make two pairs more.
The one commands, in the manner the law directs, those who willingly obey; the other, arbitrarily, those who consent not.