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What if my loved one left only an oral will?

You might think that a will has to be a paper document that has your signature and the signature of witnesses certified by an attorney or notary public. However, there is also something that's known as an "oral will." An oral will is communicated by mouth before witnesses. It's often communicated while the individual is on his or her deathbed.

Contrary to what you might think, an oral will is legal. However, because it's oral in nature, it can be fraught with the possibility of errors, miscommunications and mistakes in interpretation.

Due to these risks, the application of an oral will should be avoided at all costs. Nevertheless, it is sometimes the only thing that relatives and heirs have to go on when it comes to the appropriate distribution of a deceased loved one's estate assets.

The oral will tends to be highly vulnerable to contestation -- especially by relatives who are not happy with its terms. These relatives may try to claim in court that the decedent was not of sound body or mind when he or she made the statements. Alternatively, the disappointed relatives might allege that the decedent was subject to coercion, undue influence or manipulation during his or her final moments of life.

If a verbally spoken will applies to your loved one's estate in Tennessee, you may want to discuss the issue with a qualified estate lawyer. Review our website to learn more about how we can evaluate your legal rights and options if a loved one who had an oral will has passed away.

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