Elizabeth Edwards led a very public life. The press reported extensively on the various details of that life, including her career, the disintegration of her marriage to John Edwards (the 2004 Democratic vice-presidential nominee and 2008 presidential candidate), her relationship with her children and her battle with breast cancer. Edwards even wrote two best-selling books about her life and struggles and spoke frequently with the media. As the Washington Post said, "Elizabeth Edwards lived her private pain on a public stage." In contrast, she kept her testamentary wishes quite private.

Edwards signed her will on Dec. 1, 2010, only six days before her death. It contained typical provisions concerning payment of debts, funeral expenses, expenses of last illness and costs of administration, estate and inheritance taxes. She appointed her 28 year-old daughter Catharine as executor. She also appointed Catharine as the guardian of her two young children if Edwards was the "surviving parent." She gave certain tangible personal property and other "personal effects" to her children.

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