Oral Wills

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What are Oral Wills?

An oral will is made when the will maker tells someone close by how they want their assets to be distributed after death. Oral wills are generally not valid because of the requirement that a will must be in writing and signed to avoid the possibility of fraud or misunderstanding. Many states do not recognize oral wills, save for exceptional circumstances, and promises to make a will or to make changes to an existing will must also be in writing to be valid.

When Are Oral Wills Valid?

Oral wills are recognized when made by those in emergency situations, such as imminent danger of death or by members of the military during active service, where there is no opportunity to prepare a written will, nor to have it properly executed.

What Happens if I Get an Oral Promise Concerning a Will?

Because oral wills and oral promises concerning a will are rarely held as valid and are not easily enforceable, to protect your interests, all promises should be made in writing and preferably with the assistance of a lawyer.

Oral Wills are Not Advisable

The basic premise behind wills is estate planning, that is, to plan ahead for the security of your loved ones. Leaving behind an oral will not only undermines the planning of an estate, but leaves open an opportunity to a will contest. The drafting of a will takes planning and knowledge of state law, and an experienced lawyer in your area can greatly increase your chances of creating a will that fits your needs and can be properly executed when the time comes.

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Last Modified: 05-11-2012 03:43 PM PDT

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