Leona M. Hudak

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Good name in man and woman ..... .Is the immediate jewel of their souls; . . . he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed.

A man's last will and testament may be described as not only an express disposition of his earthly assets, but a valedictory to the living. This valedictory may in some instances irreparably blot the escutcheon of the living for a curious and hostile world to witness in perpetuity or, at least, until some unforeseen disaster destroys the probate records wherein it reposes.

The laws of all but three of our states enable a decedent to indulge his spites, prejudices, frustrations, animosities, and/or malice to full bent beyond the grave in revenge and retaliation for real or imagined slights, and the defaming testator dies secure in the knowledge that the victims of his censure are seemingly powerless to redress the harm thus wrought.

This article will examine the manner in which British Commonwealth and American courts have dealt with testamentary libel in the comparatively small number of reported cases where this issue has been placed before them.