NUNCUPATIVE WILL: Definition and How It Works In Different States

Nuncupative will

It’s easy to put off writing a will and testament. It’s difficult to think about the end of our lives, and it’s tempting to put off creating this important document until another day. But what if someone was diagnosed with a terminal illness and didn’t have a will? In their final moments, some people resort to relaying their final wishes to those around them. A nuncupative will is the verbal sharing of wishes. In this blog post, we will look at what a nuncupative will is, as well as the nuncupative will states such as California, Texas, and Florida. Let’s get started!

What is a Nuncupative Will?

A nuncupative will, also known as an oral or verbal will, is a type of will given verbally to witnesses (instead of being written down). Nuncupative wills are typically given by people who are nearing the end of their lives. Nuncupative wills were common and even necessary several hundred years ago; when most people couldn’t read or write and had to rely on the spoken word to communicate important information. However, in today’s world, a nuncupative will is rarely valid, is difficult to prove, and is not recognized in the majority of US states.

Breaking Down Nuncupative Will

A nuncupative will is also known as a deathbed will. A nuncupative will is given when a person is ill or injured and is confined to a hospital or care facility with a short life expectancy. Nuncupative will be descended from an oral tradition before written documents became common and required for legal validity. They are similar to traditions of leaving property to those who were present during the deceased’s final moments of life; as well as deathbed confessions of having committed crimes.

Nuncupative wills are more common in England and Wales and are more likely to be considered valid than in the United States. In the United States, a nuncupative will is only considered valid in emergencies involving military members; who are in danger or have been injured.

The Importance of a Nuncupative Will

In most states in the United States, a nuncupative will has little legal sway. However, in situations where an heir, executor, or personal representative must make a legal or financial decision; a nuncupative will, can inform that person of the soon-to-be-dying deceased’s wishes. This can simplify decisions about end-of-life care or the person’s estate and reduce the number of disputes between heirs; other representatives over the estate and end-of-life arrangements. If these disputes go to court, the judge may or may not consider the nuncupative will as contributing evidence; though it is not a binding document. Emotionally, a representative who follows the instructions in a nuncupative will can be assured that they are carrying out the deceased’s wishes.

Nuncupative Will In Different States

A will that is not written and is instead declared orally by the testator. A nuncupative will not be recognized in the majority of states. In states that allow nuncupative wills, the use of such wills is generally limited to specific instances specified by statute.

In New York, for example, a nuncupative will must be supported by at least two witnesses; is only valid if made by:

  1. a member of the United States armed forces while in the actual military or naval service during a declared or undeclared war or another armed conflict in which members of the armed forces are engaged; or
  2. a person who serves with or accompanies an armed force engaged in actual military or naval service during such war or another armed conflict.

Nuncupative wills are valid in North Carolina if there are two witnesses and the testator is “in imminent danger of death.”

Nuncupative Will California

The laws governing the drafting, signing, and enforcement of wills in the United States are quite consistent. The testator (the person who writes the nuncupative will) in California, like in many other states, must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. However, unlike several other states, California does not recognize a nuncupative will. A handwritten holographic will is recognized in California, but it must meet certain requirements.

The nuncupative law of California will be fairly straightforward. A valid nuncupative will in California is one that is in writing and signed by a person of legal age (18) and sound mind. For legal purposes, anyone who fits at least one of the following descriptions is not considered; to be of sound mind (and thus ineligible to form a valid will).

If you die without a will, your estate will “go to probate,” which means it will be handled according to the rules of your state rather than your preferences. In most cases, they will divide your probate estate evenly among your heirs, which may include distant relatives. If there are no heirs, the estate is taken over by the state.

Nuncupative Will Texas

Several states allow residents to make oral wills, but only in very limited circumstances and if they follow their state’s oral wills laws. In Texas, only bequests of personal property are legal under a nuncupative or oral will. As a result, in common law, you can only transfer land through a documented deed or contract, whether you do so while alive or after death. Furthermore, as of September 1, 2007, Texas law no longer recognizes nuncupative wills. In other words, oral wills are not legal. Under Texas’s old law, you could only make a nuncupative will in the following circumstances:

  • In Texas, a testator may only make a nuncupative will during his or her final illness. That is, they must be on their deathbed when making the will.
  • In Texas, the testator can only give personal property worth less than $30. This means that no real estate or property could be left in a nuncupative will.
  • The testator could only make an oral will if he had stayed in the house for at least 10 days prior to making the will. The will would still be valid if the testator died on his way home from a site.

In addition, an invalid oral will has the legal ramifications of death without a will. To put it another way, if you made a nuncupative will before you died; your witnesses did not try to probate it within six months of your death. According to Texas law, you died intestate, which means you died without a valid written will. When a person dies intestate, the intestacy laws of the state apply.

Finally, in Texas, a nuncupative will is void. So, in order to dispose of your property through a will today, you’d need to include it in writing.

Nuncupative Will Florida

Many people in Polk County are familiar with the process of writing a will. The testator, with the assistance of an attorney; drafts a will and signs it in the presence of witnesses who also sign it. Other types of last will and testament may be valid in Florida, which is a question that many people have. Is a nuncupative will valid in the state of Florida, specifically? No, is the prompt response.

A person who is about to die, such as while serving in the military or suffering from a terminal illness, can make a nuncupative will in Florida. In some states, the will may be legally acceptable. If it is written down within 30 days of the nuncupative will’s creation, Florida; on the other hand, is not one of the states that recognize the nuncupative will. In Florida, all wills must be signed by the testator and at least two witnesses at the end. The Florida nuncupative will must be signed by all of these people in the presence of the testator and each other. If this does not happen, Florida’s probate courts may not consider the document to be a will.

Although this procedure is inconvenient for testators, it ensures that a will accurately reflect; the testator’s wishes for the disposition of their belongings. Many people have discovered that spending a little time and money to write a will saves them a lot of grief later on.

nuncupative will

The General Will’s Requirements

In order to create a legal nuncupative will in states like California, Texas, and Florida, three general requirements must be met. To create a will, you must be at least 18 years old, in good health at the time of writing; intend for the document you are creating to be your will. Any will made in Texas must follow these guidelines. However, there are a few exceptions to these rules. If you are currently or have ever been married; you have the right to make a will regardless of your age.

Furthermore, if you are already serving in the military, the age limit does not apply. It’s also important to remember that, in addition to the general requirements, different types of projects will have specific criteria. It is a good idea to consult with an attorney to ensure that you have covered all of your bases.

Three Issues With Nuncupative Wills

When it comes to estate planning, there are several reasons why relying on an oral will may be a bad idea:

#1. Nuncupative wills are almost never legally binding.

The majority of states do not recognize oral wills as legally binding in probate court; those that do have limitations on what can be done. They are untrustworthy as an estate planning tool.

#2. Oral wills are difficult to establish.

Even if you have a “valid” oral will, your witnesses may find it difficult to prove it in court. With a verbal will, you rely on your witnesses to correctly interpret and communicate your wishes. If the court rejects your oral will, your estate will be treated as if you didn’t have a will at al. This causes delays, confusion, and heartache for everyone involved.

#3. It is possible that you will make a mistake.

There’s a reason why most people take the time to inventory their belongings and write down their wishes in a will. If you wait until the last possible moment to express your wishes; the stress of the situation may impair your ability to think clearly. You may forget to include specific property or even important loved ones in your oral will.


A nuncupative will is uncommon, and while some states, such as California, Texas, and Florida recognize it; it is generally not valid in most circumstances. If you don’t already have a will, you should consider adding it to your financial to-do list. Even if you don’t have a large estate or are single with no children; having a will can provide some peace of mind about what will happen to your assets after you die.

Nuncupative Will FAQs

What is required for a will in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, the testator must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind (mentally competent). Furthermore, the testator must declare in front of two witnesses that the will is his or hers, and these witnesses must then sign the will in front of the testator.

Does a will need to be recorded in PA?

Section 2502 states that any will must be in writing in order to be considered valid. It can be typed or written by hand. State law, on the other hand, does not recognize holographic wills, or wills written entirely in the testator’s handwriting but not witnessed.

Can a relative witness a will?

Anyone over the age of 18 can witness or sign a will, but a beneficiary, as well as their spouse or civil partner, cannot. In many cases, people will have a friend or coworker sign and witness their will.

Does Georgia recognize nuncupative wills?

A “testator” is a person who dies and leaves a will. “Nuncupative” refers to an oral or spoken will that can only cover a limited amount of personal property and is subject to Georgia law.

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