3rd Jul 2024

This is a series celebrating the unexpected legal issues that come up while watching everyone’s favorite talking Great Dane – Scooby-Doo. I grew up watching these shows as a kid. Watching them back with my my kids as an attorney often adds another layer of enjoyment. If you have questions about estates and related issues in Oklahoma. Or you just wanna talk some Scooby-Doo. Reach out to me directly: CoryHicks@FieldAndHicks.com

Background for this Issue

In Season 1, Episode 16 “A Night of Fright is No Delight” of Scooby-Doo Where, Where Are You!, the “eccentric millionaire” Colonel Beauregard Sanders has died. As the episode opens, Velma reads aloud in the newspaper that the decedent left One Million Dollars to four relatives and a dog named Scooby-Doo in his Last Will and Testament. The decedent put Scooby-Doo in his Will because Scooby-Doo had saved his life previously. The Mystery Inc. gang is heading on a boat on a stormy night to the decedent’s creepy castle to hear the the “Reading of the Will.”

Prior Posts in this Series

So far we have learned that there is no requirement to have a Reading of the Will. And what happens generally instead.

We have also learned that an audio recording, like the one the Mystery Incorporated Gang hears from Colonel Sanders, can NOT act as a Will.

Issue: Can an Audio Revoke a Will?

Maybe an audio recording cannot act as a Last Will and Testament. But can an audio recording or oral statement revoke an existing, valid Will?

Oklahoma Law

Oklahoma law requires a Will must be revoked in one of two ways:

-1. By a written Will or other writing executed with the same formalities as a Will. (Note: any old writing will not do).

-2. “By being burnt, torn, cancelled, obliterated or destroyed, with intent and for purpose of revoking the same, by the testator himself, or by some person in his presence and by his direction.”

Answer: Probably Not a Recording, Possibly an In-Person Statement

Looking at the first part of the law above, an audio recording or oral statement is not a Will or other writing. So it can not revoke under that requirement.

Looking at the second part, an audio recording or oral statement cannot physically destroy the Will on their own. So it cannot revoke that way.

However, it can be destroyed by another person “by his direction” and “in his presence.” His referring to the testator or person who made the prior Will.

An audio recording would likely not work to revoke a Will. It could direct someone to destroy the Will. But the testator would not generally be in that person’s presence.

A live oral statement likely WOULD work to revoke a Will. As long as the testator gave direction to destroy to the person in their presence. And then that person did in fact destroy it in the testator’s presence.

That of course would have to be done while the person who made the Will was alive. It could not be done by a later recorded audio recording after death, like the one Scooby-Doo heard from Colonel Sanders.

Perhaps an audio recording could work if it was played by the testator in the presence of the other person, and then that person did did in fact destroy it in the testator’s presence. But it would take an odd set of facts like that.

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