What types of wills are there in Japan?

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There are three main types of wills in Japan: Self Written wills, Notarized Deed wills and Secret wills.  Any of these wills will ensure that your property is passed on according to your wishes.  However, there are certain unique aspects to each type that can be beneficial in certain situations.

The first, and most basic, type of will is the Self Written Will.  A self written will can be drafted very simply but carries a risk that it could become lost or damaged.  Furthermore, due to the simple nature of the will, forgery can be a serious concern and arguments can arise following the drafter’s passing that defeat the purpose of leaving a clear will and testament.

The second type of will is the Notarized Deed Will.  This will must be notarized and witnessed by two people after being drafted so it is slightly more complicated than a standard Self Written Will.  However, this type of will provides the drafter with peace of mind that there is very little chance of forgery, loss or damage.  Having a Notarized Deed Will provides a clear and unequivocal statement of the drafter’s wishes, so it also reduces the chance that arguments will arise upon execution of the will.

The third type of will, the Secret Will, provides discretion for the drafter in cases where it would not be appropriate for other parties to learn the contents of the will before the drafter’s passing.  The will is first read after the drafter’s passing, which allows the drafter to maintain cordial relationships with those who might not get as much of the drafter’s assets as they were expecting.

Whatever will fits your needs it is always better to consult with a lawyer first before drafting a will.  There are many laws that apply to the drafting of a will in Japan that could prevent your wishes from being fully realized.  Please contact our office for a consultation if you are thinking about drafting a will.