Only much later the main beneficiary of testaments will become the surviving spouse, passing from a vertical paternal hereditary model, to an (affective) horizontal level. In the first hereditary model the male children, and among these the first born, were the main beneficiaries of testaments: the females were left at the margins of the hereditary tradition. Only the males, that is those who carried and that would always carry the last name of the father, had the position of being heirs of the patrimony and the riches of the family.
The notary will in genealogy research
This model will remain almost unchanged until the early XX century. It seems that to concentrate the patrimony in the hands of the first born aimed above all at assuring the unity of the possessions, tying them to the last name and maintaining the prestige and history of the family. In a will we can find the names and relations of all members of the family. In the past centuries, where literacy was a very rare commodity, the "testamentum nuncupativum", was a common form of declaring one's legacy to heirs after death. The will was received from a notary, expressed by the person in speech, and transcribed in the presence of seven witnesses. Later on, a more common will was the "testamentum olographum" personally written and signed.