This article discusses the whether handwritten wills and oral wills are legally valid in the State of Oklahoma.
What is a Last Will in Oklahoma?
A Will is a written document that conveys property upon death of the author of the document. The author is referred to as the Testator, and the term “will” refers to their final wishes of how they want their estate (everything they own) to be distributed upon their death.
This document is sometimes referred to as a Last Will or a Last Will and Testament.
You might have heard about the different types of Wills, such as written (typed), handwritten, and oral wills. Are they all legal in Oklahoma? This article is going to answer that question.
The short answer is yes to all of the above, but as you will see, there is only one type of Will that you want to have in your estate plan and that is the Self-Authenticating Will, which will become obvious as you read on.
Different types of wills that are legally valid in Oklahoma
Oklahoma does recognize the validity of both handwritten and oral wills, but there are considerable limitations on each. Let’s start with Oral Wills.
Oral Wills are only valid in very limited circumstances with very small estates
Oklahoma does recognize the concept of an oral will, but for reasons explained below, you are better off disregarding this as a reliable part of an estate plan.
Oklahoma does allow a person to execute a nuncupative will, which is fancy legal term for oral will, but the circumstances are incredibly limited. They can only be used when the estate is valued at $1,000 or less, and other circumstances must exist that cause the Testator to believe he is in immediate jeopardy of near death.
An oral will is not something that you contemplate in advance; its more like something a young soldier on the battlefield says to a fellow soldier, who will then have to testify in court about those final words of his dying comrade. This is not estate planning.
Given the very limited circumstances under which oral wills are valid, or even relevant, you should not consider making an oral will as part of your estate plan.
Handwritten (Holographic) Wills are valid but subject to court challenges
Next is the hand-written will, referred to as a Holographic Will by the Courts, and these are legally valid if they meeting the following criteria: entirely written in hand by the decedent, and dated and signed by the decedent. Witnesses are not required. However, expect challenges to be made in court. These wills invite litigation.
If you are capable of reducing your estate plan to a handwritten document, you should consider hiring an attorney to produce a Self-Authenticating Will. The costs are low in the context of legal expenses, and the advantages to your and your family are worth the cost.
The Self-Authenticating Will is the best choice for a valid will in Oklahoma
The only type of Last Will that you should create is a Self-Authenticating Will, drafted and reviewed by your attorney. This is a written will, that sets out your wishes on how to distribute everything you own. It is signed by you in the presence of two witnesses, and your witnesses also sign it. At the end, there is a clause that you and the witnesses sign before a notary that create the self-authentication or verification necessary to have it admitted into court without witness testimony.
The Pour-Over Will transfers property upon death into a Trust
A Self-Authenticating Will can be used in conjunction with other estate planning tools, like a revocable living Trust. You can also create a Pour-Over Will, that will also have a Self-Authenticating Clause but will devise all of your property and estate into a Trust.
To discuss the various estate-planning tools that will work best for you and your family, call our office at (405) 724-8112 or send us an email.