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Harvard Law Review


Courts have long required literal compliance with the Wills Act formalities, automatically invalidating defectively executed wills. in this Article Professor Langbein argues for a functional rule of substantial compliance that would treat some such defects as harmless to the purposes of the Wills Act. He contrasts the functional analysis that excuses the principal will substitutes from compliance with Wills Act formalities, and he points to factors that make it likely that the substantial compliance doctrine would fit smoothly into existing practice without materially increasing the levels of probate litigation.

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