Many people in Colorado may have seen people in movies or on television reciting, “I, being of sound mind and body…” to execute their last will and testament. However, in general, there are three types of wills that a person could execute: typewritten and witnessed wills, holographic wills and nuncupative wills. Which types of wills are legally acceptable is dependent on state law.

Typewritten and witnessed will are valid in all states, including Colorado. Oftentimes, these wills are drafted by a lawyer. Each state will have requirements about how many witnesses there must be to the signing of the will and how old the witnesses must be. For example, in Colorado, there must be two competent witnesses who are at least 18 years old.

Holographic wills are those that are entirely handwritten and bear the date and signature of the individual who wrote the will. Generally, there are no witnesses to a holographic will, as it is often seen as a last resort option. Holographic wills are valid in Colorado if the testator has handwritten the material provisions of the will and has signed it. However, not all states recognize holographic wills.

Nuncupative wills are oral wills. Only a handful of states recognize nuncupative wills as valid, and Colorado is not one of them. In states that do permit nuncupative wills, they are generally only acceptable under very limited circumstances, for example, if a person cannot execute a written will due to a sudden, unexpected fatal injury or illness.

This is only a brief overview of the three types of wills a person could create. State law dictates what is necessary for a will to be valid, so it is important when executing a will to understand what is necessary to make the will legally enforceable. For this reason, many people choose to work with an attorney when executing a will, to ensure the final product is legally sound.