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Are verbal changes to Wills or Trusts valid in Oklahoma?

Oklahoma City, OK |

When my Grandfather was on his deathbed, my Grand Uncle claimed he recorded a verbal statement from my Grandfather that he would receive certain property that was already assigned to a different beneficiary in the original written will.

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

The simple answer is NO.

However, if in fact the testator (your grandfather) made such a statement and it was tape-recorded, a crafty attorney could attempt to claim that the Will was revoked, but even so, your grandfather's brother would not be an heir above you as the issue (son) of an heir (the deceased's son).

Despite what you may have seen on TV over the years, Oklahoma law quite explicitly allows only two kinds of will: a written will with subscribing witnesses or a "holographic" will. The latter type is valid ONLY if it is hand-written and signed entirely by the deceased. A video or tape recording does not suffice. Okla. Stat. tit. 84 §54.

Finally, Oklahoma law also explicitly defines how a will, once it is in writing, can be changed or revoked. Any change must meet the same rules as the will itself regarding signing and witnesses. Revoking a will can only be accomplished by defacing it, destroying it or executing an entirely new will.

A few years ago I handled a case where the deceased's original will had been temporarily misplaced. One of the heirs (who was not favored in the will once it was located) claimed that the deceased INTENDED to change it and had even had a lawyer prepare a new will. However, since she had not actually executed the new will, it did not matter how much she had said or even that her INTENTIONS had been recorded, in a sense, by the preparation of a draft for a replacement will.

The reason for the strictness of these rules is obvious: We cannot ask the deceased what they really intended, so we must go by the evidence that is the least subject to doubt. It's easy to say one thing one day and change your mind the next. If you take the time to write it out in detail and sign your name to it, we conclude that you really mean it.

So, the final answer should also be "no" - the will should control.

HOWEVER, please note that because I do not know all the details of your situation, the above answer should not be taken as a substitute for quality legal advice from a qualified lawyer.

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Posted

No they are not valid. The written documents control.

Hope this helps.

Please remember to designate a best answer to your question.

Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is sjfpc@comcast.net , his website for more tax, estate and business articles is www.sjfpc.com. and his blog is

LEGAL DISCLAIMER Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is sjfpc@comcast.net , his website is www.sjfpc.com. and his blog is <http://frommtaxes.wordpress.com/> Mr. Fromm is ethically required to state that the response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. Also, there are no recognized legal specialties under Pennsylvania law. Any references to a trust, estate or tax lawyer refer only to the fact that Mr. Fromm limits his practice to these areas of the law. These responses are only in the form of legal education and are intended to only provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply or make such reply unsuitable. Mr. Fromm strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received. By using this site you understand and agree that there is no attorney client relationship or confidentiality between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction, who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances and with whom you have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question or omitted from the question. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Any information in this comment may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

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Posted

Generally verbal amendments to Wills are not valid. However it really depends what the verbal statement was. I would bring the recording to an attorney. There is a chance that the verbal statement was not an amendment but rather some form of a contract or a present gift. There is also the possibility that the will was invalid. Your rights via intestacy may be larger than under the will.

Overall I agree with attorney Fromm but I would not give up entirely if the value of the property is significant enough. Speak with an attorney lay out the situation in detail and make your decision about going forward.

Disclaimer: The foregoing answer does not constitute legal advice, is provided for informational and educational purposes only for persons interested in the subject matter. Each situation is fact specific and may be subject to state specific laws. Without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem fully. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. No Tax Advice - Circular 230 Disclaimer - Any information in this comment is not intended to constitute a comprehensive and complete tax consideration analysis, and may not be used by the taxpayer to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency, nor for the purpose of promoting, marketing or making recommendations to other persons on any tax-related matters.

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