Is an orally declared will legally valid?


A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his/her estate and provides for the transfer of his/her property at the time of death. A will can be made by anyone above 21 years of age in India.

It is imperative to understand that oral declarations are non-verifiable and therefore, in the regular course, hold no value in the court of law. This person needs to be a major, of sound mind, free from fraud, coercion and undue influence. A will must be in writing and can be on plain paper.

Oral wills can be made by a soldier, airman employed in actual warfare or a mariner at sea by declaring his intention before two witnesses present at the same time. Such a will, however, shall become null at the expiration of one month if the testator is still alive. The will must be signed by the testator and attested by two or more witnesses. In order for it to be valid, the testator must sign the will very carefully in the presence of at least two independent witnesses, who have to sign after his signature, certifying that the testator has signed the will in their presence. The date and place also must be indicated clearly at the bottom of the will. It is not necessary that a person should sign all the pages of the will instrument, but he must sign to avoid any legal disturbances.

If the age of the testator is more than 75, it is recommended that a doctor’s certificate affirming the testator’s soundness of mind be sought.


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