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Gierach and Gierach, P.A.

Are Oral Wills Valid?

An oral will is a one that has been spoken out loud to another person, but not written down. These wills are only valid in limited circumstances, such as if a person has suddenly become ill and is unable to create a written will before passing away.

Witnesses who heard the deceased person state his or her final wishes can come forward and claim these wishes constituted a valid oral will. However, the burden of proof is on these claimants to show these final words actually qualify as a legally binding will.

Many states will not consider oral wills at all, even if claimants believe they have enough proof to establish a legally binding document. In those jurisdictions that do allow for oral wills, they usually require the final statement to have been heard by at least two witnesses. In these cases, the statement must also have been made by:

  • A member of the United States military while in active service during a war or other armed conflict
  • A person who services with or accompanies the armed forces engaged in active combat or service during war or conflict
  • A mariner while at sea

If the will-maker manages to survive the danger that prompted the creation of the oral will, the will becomes automatically invalid, and that person will then have to create a written will to have his or her wishes honored.

In most cases, however, oral wills will not be honored by courts, and the better course of action is to have your estate plan established well in advance. For assistance in doing so, speak with an experienced Orlando estate planning lawyer at Gierach & Gierach, P.A.

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