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The Last Will and Testament of President George Washington

Estate Planning, WillsNo Comments

george washington 150x150 The Last Will and Testament of President George WashingtonToday is President’s Day as well as Washington’s Birthday – although he was born Feb. 22, 1732, his birthday has been celebrated with that of Abraham Lincoln on the third Monday of February as a federal holiday since 1971.

Washington wrote and attested his own will on July 9, 1799, five months prior to his death on Dec. 14 1799.  Washington’s will is fascinating reading, revealing much about the character of our first president as well as the extent of his holdings.  At the time of his death, he was a very wealthy landowner, with property in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Kentucky.

Washington’s will begins in elegant fashion:

I GEORGE WASHINGTON of Mount Vernon, a citizen of the United States, and lately President of the same, do make, ordain and declare this Instrument; which is written with my own hand and every page thereof subscribed with my name, to be my last Will & Testament, revoking all others.

His first order of business is to discharge his debts, ordering that they be punctually and speedily paid.

One of the most interesting aspects of Washington’s will is his detailed provisions for the Mount Vernon slaves.  Washington specified in his will that all slaves be given their freedom upon the death of his wife, Martha.  He noted that, To emancipate them during her life, would, tho’ earnestly wished by me, be attended with such insuperable difficulties on account of their intermixture by Marriages…

Washington further provided for the care of the aged and the education of young Mount Vernon slaves by his heirs: Seeing that a regular & permanent fund be established for their support so long as there are subjects requiring it; not trusting to the uncertain provision to be made by individuals.

Washington was charitable beyond his slaves, establishing a trust to benefit the Academy in the Town of Alexandria towards the support of a Free school, established at, and annexed to, the said Academy; for the purpose of educating such orphan children, or the children of such other poor & indigent persons as are unable to accomplish it with their own means: and who, in the judgment of the Trustees of the said Seminary, are best entitled to the benefit of this donation.

As for his own passing, Washington sets forth his instructions in his will as follows:

The family vault at Mount Vernon requiring repairs, and being improperly situated besides, I desire that a new one of Brick, and upon a larger Scale, may be built, at the foot of what is commonly called the Vineyard Inclosure, on the ground which is marked out. In which my remains, with those of my deceased relatives (now in the old Vault) and such others of my family as may chuse to be entombed there, may be deposited. And it is my express desire that my Corpse may be Interred in a private manner, without parade, or funeral Oration.

You can read the entire Last Will and Testament of George Washington here.

Help is available to you by contacting your Southern California financial planning experts today.