nuncupative will

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A will which is not written, but is declared orally by the testator. Nuncupative wills are not valid in a majority of states.

In states that do permit nuncupative wills, the use of such wills are generally limited to specific instances enumerated by statute. For example, in New York, a nuncupative will must be supported by at least two witnesses and is only valid if made by (1) a member of the armed forces of the United States while in actual military or naval service during a war, declared or undeclared, or other armed conflict in which members of the armed forces are engaged; (2) a person who serves with or accompanies an armed force engaged in actual military or naval service during such war or other armed conflict; or (3) a mariner while at sea. In North Carolina, nuncupative wills are valid when there are two witnesses and the testator is “in imminent peril of death.”

[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]