Does a Verbal Will Hold Up in Maryland?

August 1, 2022

Far too many people make the mistake of putting off estate planning and writing a will. This can end with someone on a deathbed attempting to communicate verbally their final wishes for distributing their wealth or naming a guardian for their minor children. This type of communication may be referred to as a nuncupative will, or oral will, because it is delivered verbally to witnesses. While this may have been an accepted practice in ancient times, nuncupative will are rarely valid in today’s modern world.

Any previous will, regardless of how long ago it was executed, will always override a nuncupative will. The reason lawmakers do not want to enforce nuncupative wills is that they are often difficult to prove. Trusting witnesses to correctly interpret the oral communication and remember it, especially during emotional dying moments is problematic in itself.

It is also difficult to prove that the communication was made while of sound mind. If you wait until your final moments to make these types of decisions, the stress from the situation could prevent you from make the best choices. Decisions made during high stress and emotional moments are often regrettable.

Some states will recognize a nuncupative will if the following conditions are met:

1. The person creating the oral will is dying or his or her life is in immediate danger.

2. The person has at least two witnesses present to hear the dying declarations.

3. The witnesses write down the communication as soon as possible and record it within 30 days.

Maryland does not recognize nuncupative wills at all under any circumstances, even if all the above conditions are met. In Maryland, a will must be written, witnessed by two people who are not beneficiaries and notarized.

Do not make the mistake of delaying when it comes to estate planning. Regardless of your net worth, discussing your situation with an experienced estate planning attorney and getting a solid plan in place provides peace of mind. You know that you are taking care of your loved ones and putting your legacy in place.

While many emotions can be impediments to the process. Estate planning is not something to leave to procrastination. The process is not as dreadful as many may think. The questions asked during an estate planning consultation are streamlined and will help you organize your affairs.

The 4 Steps to Securing Your Legacy

1. Attend a workshop offered by Stouffer Legal. Sign up here.

2. Get paired with an attorney and set up your consultation.

3. Create and execute your comprehensive estate plan.

4. Enjoy peace of mind.

Contact us to get started on your estate plan. Do not wait until it is too late. Oral wills are not recognized in the state of Maryland so this will not be a last minute solution. Contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Stouffer Legal in the Greater Baltimore area. You can schedule an appointment by calling us at (443) 470-3599 or emailing us at

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