What constitutes a legal Will?

A woman made a Will 3 weeks after she got sick and 10 weeks before she passed away. It named her only child as her executor and heir. A new handwritten Will/amendment was made just 8 days before she passed, the day after the deceased’s father limited contact between the deceased and her only child. It was handwritten by the father, signed by the deceased; it named the deceased’s father as the new executor and heir and stated that any and all property that had been deeded over to the deceased’s child previously must be changed to include the deceased’s father’s name as part owner. It wasn’t notarized or witnessed. Without going to probate, who would be the executor legally, the father or the child?

Asked on October 5, 2013 under Estate Planning, Oklahoma


Nathan Wagner / Law Office of Nathan Wagner

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

The new handwritten will would not be valid. In most states, a will must have 2 witnesses (it is not necessary to notarize a will). In some states, a will without witnesses can also be valid if it is in the deceased person's handwriting.

In this case, the new will was not witnessed and was not in the deceased person's handwriting, so the new will should not be valid and the son should still be the heir and named executor.

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