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Can I make a videotape of my will and last testament?

Movies and TV shows have popularized the idea of making a recording of yourself to speak to your loved ones after you’ve passed. But, can a video like this legitimately act as your will and last testament?

Nuncupative wills

A nuncupative, or oral, will is simply a will that is spoken aloud. Since there are no explicit laws in Virginia about recording your spoken wishes, a videotaped will would be considered a nuncupative will.

Unfortunately, these are only legitimate in the eyes of the court for soldiers, military service persons, mariners, or someone working out at sea.

Written wills

Those who are 18 years or older and mentally competent can, however, draft their own will with a pen and ink.

Holographic wills, also known as handwritten wills, are legitimate in the state of Virginia so long as two witnesses (that are not included in the will) can attest to the authenticity of the testator’s handwriting.

The importance of legalese

Oral and handwritten wills run the risk of being misconstrued or tampered with, which could invalidate them. Having an attorney's help with writing your will can be useful because lawyers know how to use legalese.

The term “legalese” refers to the formal and technical language used in legal documents. Writing in this way is advantageous because it keeps the courts and your beneficiaries from misunderstanding your intentions after you’re gone.

An estate planning lawyer will ensure that there are no loopholes or misunderstandings about your wishes. This can help ease your family members through an already difficult and confusing time.

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