Creating a Valid Minnesota Will

Will docA Will must meet certain criteria to be considered a valid Will in Minnesota.

To make a Will, you must be at least 18 years of age, and must be “of sound mind”.

The Will must be in writing, and must be signed by you, by another person at your direction, or by your conservator pursuant to a court order. Two other individuals must sign your Will as witnesses. A beneficiary of the Will may sign as a witness. However, Minnesota lawyers often prefer that neutral parties — rather than beneficiaries — serve as witnesses so as to better avoid a potential future accusation that the maker of the Will was pressured by the beneficiary to sign the Will.   

Your Will is “self-proved” when you and your witnesses acknowledge — typically on the Will document itself — that the maker of the Will is at least 18 years old, of sound mind, and under no constraint or undue influence to sign the Will.  These signatures take place in front of a notary, who then notarizes the signatures by signing a statement to that effect and by stamping the document with the notary’s stamp.  The “self-proved” act helps establish that the Will was properly executed, which is helpful in the event that the validity of the Will is later challenged in court.

If you want to revoke your Will, you can do so by signing a new, dated Will that specifically states that prior Wills are revoked. Alternatively, you are presumed to have intended that a later Will revoked the earlier Will if the subsequent Will makes a complete disposition of your estate. You can also revoke a Will by burning, tearing, or otherwise destroying the Will or any part of it.

It is important that you make an official amendment to your Will — called a Codicil — if you want to amend your Will. Do not handwrite changes on your Will as it will not be clear whether or not you intended to revoke all or just part of your Will. Moreover, any new provisions must be signed by you and two witnesses, just as was the case with the original Will. A Codicil is the best vehicle for making changes.

A Will may refer to a separate written statement for the distribution of your personal stuff — officially called “tangible personal property” in legal terms. To be valid, the possibility of the existence of this separate written statement must be referred to in your Will. This separate writing must be signed and dated by you, or must be in your handwriting. This separate writing must clearly identify each personal property item listed, and must also clearly identify who you intend to be the recipient of said item. This writing may be prepared after your Will is signed, and is the only part of your Will that doesn’t need witnesses. You can have more than one list, and if you’ve named two different people to receive the same item, the list with the latest date prevails. All items of personal property not specifically listed on the separate writing are typically bequeathed in the Will to your surviving spouse or descendants.

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Disclaimer: This Blog is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. If you have questions, please seek the advice of an attorney licensed to practice law in the state where you live. Wittenburg Law does not expressly or implicitly warrant the accuracy or reliability of any of the Blog’s contents. An attorney-client relationship is not formed by reading this Blog. If you are interested in Wittenburg Law’s representation of you, you must contact Wittenburg Law for a determination of whether your matter is one for which Wittenburg Law is willing and able to accept representation of you.

Bonnie Wittenburg, Wittenburg Law Office, PLLC, 601 Carlson Parkway, Suite 1050, Minnetonka, MN 55305         952-649-9771