Traditionally, a will is a written document that is drafted and filed long before you actually pass away, and your heirs need to use it. However, you may have also considered simply using an oral will to save yourself these steps. Is it a good idea?

Technically, you may be able to use an oral will in Massachusetts. Not all states have laws that allow them, but Massachusetts does in some situations. That does not mean they can always be used, though, so you are taking a bit of a risk.

The issue with an oral will is that you only have a person’s testimony to go on. What if the heirs do not think that person can be trusted? What if multiple witnesses disagree on what you actually said? An oral will can cause a lot of confusion and may increase the odds of an estate dispute, as compared to a more traditional will.

You may have also heard that an oral will is called a deathbed will. The idea is that someone who does not have a will decides to communicate their wishes to a loved one right before they die.

However, this can also raise a lot of questions. Does the person actually have the mental capacity to accurately make these decisions right before they pass away? Did the person they talked to influence them and try to gain from the situation? Again, it can lead to disputes.

The best option is to look into creating an estate plan in advance. This way, you lower the chances of a dispute and you set your heirs up for a smooth transition.