Law Offices of Roshni T. Desai
Long-term Planning For Orange County

What are oral and deathbed wills?

As we have discussed in recent posts, your will planning can be more complex than the straightforward end-of-life wishes you may be accustomed to hearing about. There are some types of wills that can be upheld in California probate court but may still not be a good idea because they can be easily contested.

Oral and deathbed wills are two of these, as HowStuffWorks explains. They are not as commonly used as they were in times past, but they may be valid in an emergency, if you don’t have a written and legally recognized will in place already.

Oral will – Why might you speak your will aloud instead of writing it down? This type of will is most often utilized when there isn’t time to write and sign a will. You might be a soldier in active combat or in a situation where your life is immediately threatened. You would need witnesses to hear your wishes and later relay them to your loved ones.

Deathbed will – After a serious accident or unexpected illness that you feel you might not survive, you may create a hasty will on your deathbed. Like an oral will, you need witnesses to record a deathbed will.

These wills are usually considered weak and easily contested, as your loved ones might not believe the witnesses or could claim that you were under duress or not mentally capable of creating a will under these unusual circumstances. You may prevent your estate being subject to a probate dispute by addressing your estate planning well in advance of an unforeseen situation, but this information is not meant to replace the advice of a lawyer.

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