I. What is a will?
Will means an expression of the wishes of a natural person, made in order to bequeath his or her property to others after his or her death.
II. Form of wills
- Oral wills
- An oral will is only made in case a person’s life is threatened by death and it is impossible to make a written will.
- An oral will shall be deemed lawful only if the testator orally expressed his or her last wishes before at least two witnesses who immediately thereafter recorded those wishes in writing and signed or fingerprinted the document. A will must be notarized or certified within five working days of the date on which the testator orally expressed his/her last wishes.
- After 03 months from the time of an oral will, if the testator is still alive, sane and wise, the oral will shall automatically become invalid.
2. Written wills:
Unwitnessed written wills
A testator must write a will by his or her own hand and must sign it. If a will is a typed document signed by the testator or the testator writes it himself/herself but someone else signs it for him/her, it will not be considered legal.
A written will without witnesses must comply with the law to ensure the legitimacy of the will.
Witnessed written wills
Where a testator is not able to write a will by his or her own hand, the testator may type or request another person to write the will, but there must be at least two witnesses. The testator must sign or fingerprint the will in the presence of the witnesses; the witnesses shall acknowledge the signature or fingerprint of the testator and sign the will.
Witnessed written wills which are notarized or certified
The testator may request notarization or certification of the will at a notary practice organization, the People’s Committee of the commune, or request the notary to come to his/her residence to make a will.
Some written wills are as valid as notarized or certified wills, including:
- A written will be made by a serving soldier who is not able to request a notarization or certification of his or her will provided that such will is certified by the head of his or her unit having the rank of a company commander or higher.
- A written will is made by a person traveling on a seagoing vessel or aircraft provided that the will is certified by the captain of the vessel or aircraft.
- A written will be made by a person undergoing medical treatment in a hospital or other medical establishment or sanatorium provided that the will is certified by the person in charge of such hospital or establishment or sanatorium.
- A written will be made by a person conducting surveys, explorations, or research in mountainous areas, forests, or offshore islands provided that the will is certified by the person in charge of the unit.
- A written will be made by a Vietnamese citizen residing abroad provided that the will is certified by a Vietnamese consular or diplomatic representative mission in that country.
- A written will be made by a person held in temporary detention, serving a prison sentence or administrative penalty, or at an educational or medical facility provided that the will is certified by the person in charge of such facility.
III. Notes when making a will
- A will may not be written using abbreviations or other symbols. If a will consists of several pages, each page must be numbered and bear the signature or fingerprint of the testator.
- Where a will has erasure or correction, the testator or the testament witness must sign beside erasing and corrected place.
- Notarization or certification of a will is optional and does not affect the legality of the will, except in the case of a will of a person with physical limitations or of an illiterate person.
- A will made by a person between fifteen and eighteen years of age must be made in writing and with the consent of the parents or guardian of such person.
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