Nuncupative wills are those that are spoken orally to another party. This typically occurs when a person is on their death bed and must provide instructions for the transfer of personal property to beneficiaries. In many cases, oral wills are not legally binding. However, they can be recognized by the court in some instances, provided the proper steps are followed.
While not usually legally binding, oral wills are useful in clarifying the wishes of the deceased, especially when there are disputes among family members. Keep in mind that oral wills are not able to overrule any estate plans that were created previously. This is true even when a will was created many years prior, which might call its accuracy into question. They can help resolve disputes if a court is willing to hear evidence provided orally.
When it comes to military members, oral wills are often considered valid under very specific circumstances. For instance, if a service member is in a dangerous situation or gravely hurt, he or she may provide instructions on distribution of assets and properties to heirs to another party present. These instructions may be considered valid, depending on the state where the property or assets currently reside. In the event the service member survives the situation, the will may remain valid for a certain period of time. However, this largely depends on the situation.
Along with asset distribution, oral wills can also offer clarification on end-of-life care. Some people prefer not to have life-saving treatments when stricken with a serious injury or illness. These desires are best communicated by a living will, which spells out a person's exact wishes for end of life care. While this is the preferred manner of communicating wishes, an oral will can provide insight and potentially prevent painful disputes among family.