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Verbal Will of Young Person

A young girl, bed-ridden from cancer decided three months before she passed away to prepare a will. A Ben Torah, who is also a lawyer and notary in Israel, was brought to her bedside. She read to him her will which had being typed out for her. At that meeting there was nobody but the lawyer in the room at the time that she read out her will. She did not sign the will at that meeting. They tried to set up another meeting where she would sign but she passed away before this could happen. Is this will valid to distribute her money according to her wishes, which are written in the document, on the testimony of the lawyer.
Thanking you in advance.


Although the will is not legally valid, if the parties involved trust the lawyer (which stands to reason, because he is a ben-Torah), there will be a mitzvah to carry out the girl’s instructions, and it is proper to do so.


The will is not legally valid, for two reasons.

If she was not a shechiv mera, meaning she was not “on her death bed” (in a very bad state, and aware that he days are numbered), it follows that the will is not legally binding in halachah, because no “kinyan” (halachic transfer) was made.

Even if she was classified as a shechiv mera, the will is not binding, because two witnesses are required to verify the instruction made by the deceased.

However, there remains a mitzvah to fulfill the will of the deceased (see Choshen Mishpat 252:1-2). Note that according to the Rema (250:24), it is possible that the mitzvah does not apply. However, it remains right to do so.

I’m sorry to hear about the untimely passing, and may Hashem bring comfort and consolation to the family.

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