The Austrian Supreme Court recently created quite a fuss when it ruled on the formal requirements for wills drawn up by another person than the testator, i.e. wills not written in the testator's own hand. Such a will requires the signatures of the testator and three witnesses in order to be valid.

In the specific case, the testatrix shortly before her death in hospital signed a will drawn up by a law office which consisted of two loose sheets. The text of the will was placed on the front and back of the first sheet which was signed by the testatrix; the second sheet held the signatures of the three witnesses. The two sheets were then tied together with a paper clip.

In its decision 2 Ob 192/17z, the Supreme Court ruled that this arrangement did not comply with the formal requirements of a will not written in the testator's own hand. According to the law, the witnesses need to sign "on the deed" itself. If the deed consists of several loose sheets they need to be connected in terms of content. The will is thus invalid when the witnesses, rather than signing the sheet that holds the text of the will, have put their signatures on an additional loose and empty sheet.

In order to avoid the risk that a will might be invalid, it is thus recommended to check it for compliance with the formal requirements.

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