Law amended concerning handwritten wills

In January 2019, there was an amendment to the Japanese Civil Code which relaxed the rules for creating a handwritten will.


What the recent change means

Before the change, a handwritten will had to be written in its entirety in your own handwriting, including the list of assets.

However, as of January 13, 2019, the requirement for the will being written completely by the testator’s hand was relaxed. Namely, the list of assets that makes up part of the handwritten will can now be typed up on a computer or written by someone other than the testator.

To make things even easier, attachment of registration certificates for real estate and copies of your bank book can now be used in place of a list of those assets.


Things to keep in mind

Although this makes life easier, testators will have to put their signature and affix their seal on any page which is not written in their own hand writing. If the testator forgets to put their signature or affix their seal on any pages of the list of assets, that page will be deemed as invalid. There is also a risk of the entire will becoming void if the will does not make sense without the unsigned / invalidated page.

This recent change eliminated some obstacles in creating a handwritten will. Before the change, testators had to write the address of all real estate being bequeathed in the will without any discrepancies from the registration records, which can be difficult as Japanese real estate registration records can be somewhat confusing.

Since this change reduces the necessary time and effort, more people may consider to create a handwritten will by themselves.

However, there is the new requirement of putting your signature and seal on all non-self handwritten pages, and there is also issue of heirs not being able to confirm the validity (besides the list of assets) of the will until they actually go to have the will validated by the family court.


Is a handwritten will now a good way to go?

These changes have made creating a handwritten will easier, but we still recommend creating a notarized will. The merits of creating a notarized will remain unchanged.

Another upcoming amendment of the Civil Code involves testators being able to ask local governments to store their will. We will touch upon this in a future blog.

If you need help creating a will that protects your legacy, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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