The whole point of getting your estate plans in order and creating a will is to avoid a lot of confusion or conflict within your family after you’re gone – but the wrong kind of will can actually create more problems than it will solve.
With that in mind, it’s good to know how the law treats various types of wills, especially since that can vary drastically from state to state.
Are oral wills legal?
An oral (or “nuncupative”) will is generally considered a will of “last resort,” and they’re only recognized in a few states – usually under very specific circumstances.
Colorado doesn’t recognize oral wills at all, even if there are a host of witnesses willing to testify to your last wishes – so a testator cannot simply tell people what they want to happen with their estate on their deathbed, for example, and expect their wishes to be carried out.
Are handwritten wills valid?
Handwritten (or “holographic”) wills are those largely or entirely composed by the testator’s own hand. Most people automatically assume that these will be automatically valid everywhere, but that simply isn’t true.
Colorado law does permit holographic wills so long as all the “material provisions” of the will are written in the testator’s own hand and the testator signed the document. Witnesses are not required.
However, holographic wills are problematic for numerous reasons. First, since the average person isn’t familiar with how a will needs to be written, they may have no idea what it takes to make the will clear and correct. They may leave instructions that are simply too vague to be followed. Second, there may be questions about whether or not the will is genuine, especially when it is not witnessed.
Fortunately, it’s easy enough to avoid these kinds of problems with your own will. When you have experienced legal guidance and have your will prepared for you by a professional and properly witnessed, it’s easy to know that you’ve set everything in order for your family’s future security.