A Self-Made Last Will & Testament in Oregon

By Samantha Kemp

Without a valid will, a will writer risks having the Oregon state legislature determine who will inherit his belongings. To avoid this problem, the will writer -- known as the testator in legal terminology -- may make his own will by handwriting or typing it. However, several formalities must be followed to avoid invalidating the will.

Capacity

Oregon Revised Statute 112.225 requires the testator to be at least 18 years old -- though she can be younger if she's married -- and to be of sound mind.

Writing

Oregon law requires all wills to be in writing, whether handwritten or typed.

Signature

According to Section 112.235 of Oregon's revised statutes, a will writer has three options in terms of his signature:

  • he can sign the will himself;
  • he can sign the will beforehand and then acknowledge his signature; or
  • he can direct someone else to sign the will for him.

If the testator has someone else sign the will for him, the person signing must add her name to the will and state that she signed the will writer's name at his direction.

Witnesses

While many states recognize holographic, or handwritten, wills that do not require witnesses, Oregon law requires two witnesses to every will. These witnesses must see the testator sign the will, and the testator must verbalize that the will contains his signature. The witnesses must also sign their names to the will. Even if a person stands to inherit assets under the will, she can still serve as a witness.

Provisions

A will allows a testator to give his belongings to anyone of his choosing when he dies. However, if the will writer is married, his spouse can choose to take the share that she is entitled to under the rules of intestacy, or she can keep what the will gives her.

Certain accounts allow the will writer to decide who will inherit these assets upon the individual's death; these typically include bank accounts, stocks and bonds, insurance policies and retirement accounts. Individuals with these types of assets determine who will inherit them by filling out a beneficiary designation form. This form determines the recipient of the benefits, regardless of what the will says.

Uniform International Wills Act

As an alternative to following the Oregon rules, will writers can conform their wills to the Uniform International Wills Act, and their wills will be valid. This act requires that the will be in writing in any language and be handwritten or written by any other means. The testator must declare to two witnesses that the will is his own and he knows its contents.

If the testator can't sign the will, the person signing makes note of the testator's inability to sign the will. The witnesses must sign at the end of the will, and the testator must sign each page of the will, and these pages must be numbered. The will's date must be the same as the signature's date. A certificate must be attached to the will, certifying that the requirements of the act have been followed.

About the Author

Samantha Kemp is a lawyer for a general practice firm. She has been writing professionally since 2009. Her articles focus on legal issues, personal finance, business and education. Kemp acquired her JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law. She also has degrees in economics and business and teaching.

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