• 2023.04.11
  • Others

Revision of the law regarding the writing of wills in writing

Amendment to the Law on Wills in Writing (Civil Code Article 968, Paragraph 2)

In order to ensure the certainty of the testator’s final intention, a self-written will requires that the date, name, and body of the will be written in the testator’s own handwriting. Under the previous Civil Code, everything had to be written in handwriting, including the inventory of property if a separate inventory was to be prepared in addition to the body of the will. However, when there is a large amount of property, it would be a considerable burden to write the entire text of the will in one’s own handwriting. However, it is now possible to prepare a will by attaching an inventory prepared by a computer, etc. to a handwritten will.

How to keep the prepared will

Prior to the amendment, there were no specific legal provisions on how to store a will that had been prepared. Unlike notarized wills, which are kept at a notary office and thus free from the risk of alteration or loss, self-written wills are often kept by the testator himself/herself, and the risk of alteration or loss has been considered greater than that of notarized wills. In order to avoid inheritance problems arising from such risks, the “Law Concerning Custody of Wills at Legal Affairs Bureau” (hereinafter referred to as the “Will Custody Law”) was enacted together with the “Bill for Partial Amendment of Civil Code and Domestic Affairs Case Procedure Law,” and a new system was established for the custody of wills in the Legal Affairs Bureau. This system is designed to allow the testator to keep his or her will in the custody of the Legal Affairs Bureau. Under this system, the testator himself/herself applies for the custody of his/her own testamentary deed at the Legal Affairs Bureau that has jurisdiction over the testator’s domicile or registered domicile or the location of real estate owned by the testator, submitting the application form, the will, and other attached documents. Applications by mail or by proxy are not accepted, and the storage of a will is limited to a will in writing, not an authenticated copy of a notarized will or a secret will. The custody of wills will be handled by the Legal Affairs Bureau designated by the Minister of Justice as a wills depository, and the application will be examined by a wills administration officer. However, this law will come into effect on July 20, 2020, so applications for storage cannot be made until then.