Are verbal instructions sufficient to create a valid will?
Hi, I’m Jordan Blake. I’m an attorney with Clear Counsel Law Group. I do probate and I also do estate planning. I have this question that comes up from time to time as to whether or not verbal instructions can be valid for disposing of someone’s property after you pass away. The question is, sometimes I meet with an elderly individual who says, “I told my kids what I want done and they know. They know what needs to be done.” That may be the case. The kids may cooperate. The question is, is that verbal instructions actually enforceable and legally valid. The answer is, no, it’s not.
That’s why we have. That’s why we have trusts. It’s because merely verbal instructions are not actually legal and enforceable. They’re certainly better than nothing in terms of letting your loved ones know what your wishes are, but if there’s any kind of dispute as to those verbal instructions, it’s gonna be a situation where it’s very much he said, she said. There’s not gonna be any kind of legal guidance as to what happens. If you merely leave verbal instructions, what’s likely to happen is the court will divide the property via what’s called intestacy, which just means they will consider you to have passed away without a will. Usually that goes first to the surviving spouse, then to the kids, then to brothers and sisters, kind of in that order.
In any event, we would strongly, as attorneys, as estate planning attorneys, we would strongly, strongly advise against just trying to leave assets via verbal instructions. Very important to get into CS so that we can talk about the different options for making valid, enforceable, written instructions. Feel free to give us a call, Clear Counsel Law Group. We’ll gladly sit down with you and do a free estate planning view.