Is a verbal agreement with 3 witnesses a legal contract after someone’s death?

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Is a verbal agreement with 3 witnesses a legal contract after someone’s death?

Our father stated in front of 4 people one of the 4 was to be given certain items after his passing. The trust that was in place didn’t cover any of the items it only said it would be left to the siblings to decide how it would be divided. Now 1 of the 4 people have retracted the agreement and refuse to turn over the items the deceased had specifically stated would be given to another individual. As well as things they siblings outlined to go to a certain person are now being taken away. Do we have legal grounds to fight them for what was said to be ours?

Asked on September 29, 2011 under Estate Planning, Kansas

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  Technically your Father made what is known as an oral or "nuncupative" will.  Such Wills are generally not considered to be valid.  In some states they are under certain circumstances.  Sometimes they are held valid under certain conditions such as war time.  Kansas Probate Code does address the issue or oral Wills under Chapter 50 Article 6 and it states as follows:

Chapter 59.--PROBATE CODE Article 6.--WILLS

      59-608.   Nuncupative will. An oral will made in the last sickness shall be valid in respect to personal property, if reduced to writing and subscribed by two competent, disinterested witnesses within thirty days after the speaking of the testamentary words, when the testator called upon some person present at the time the testamentary words were spoken to bear testimony to said disposition as his or her will.

      As you can see the section is very specific as to what needs to be done. If it was not then you may have no basis to fight.  Also, if it contradicted the Trust that would be an issue as well.  But I think that the way you have spoken about the trust your trustee may have the ability to do something.  Please get legal help here.  Good luck.


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