Oral Will

DEFINITION of 'Oral Will'

An oral will is one that is communicated orally to witnesses, usually on the person's deathbed. An oral will is usually made in haste, which opens up the possibility for errors.

Oral wills are very controversial, because disappointed relatives can contend that the decedent was not of sound mind and body or that someone exerted undue influence on the decedent when the will was made.


There is a small number of states that recognize oral wills under certain rules. One such state is Ohio, which stipulates in its law that an oral will is valid only if the two witnesses write down the will within 10 days of it being given and if the will is submitted for probate within six months of the decedent's death. Some states have dollar-amount limits on property that can be passed on by an oral will.