When you are creating your estate plan, there can be plenty of things to consider as you craft the right plan for you and your family. As you dig deeper into the documents themselves, you may think they need to be long and complex, and I am often asked if there's a page requirement for a Will. But in reality, when you create a Will in Minnesota, there are only three requirements you need to meet for a Will to be considered valid:
- It needs to be in writing;
- It has to be signed by the person making the Will; and
- There have to be two witnesses who signed it as well.
This is the bare minimum that you need to do for any will in Minnesota. But you want to do more than that bare minimum. What we will normally do is add a notary to the process to notarize the signatures of the people signing it. Is it required under state law? No. Is it better course? Yes. These best practices add a little more legitimacy to the Will so that if down the road, somebody tries to contest it you have another layer of not only did we see the person sign it, we have two people see the person sign it and we have a notary certify that he or she saw the two people sign it and saw the original person signing the Will.
Other Issues Surrounding Signing of a Will
Now, when it comes to signing a Will, there can be other issues that come up:
- If there's a conservatorship involved, you can actually have the conservator create and sign a Will on behalf of somebody.
- Under certain circumstances, you can direct somebody else to sign your Will for you.
- There can also be competency issues if you're having somebody who's signing a Will and you're not sure they really understand the Will they're signing.
These are not common issues, but hopefully, you can see from these issues that there are more complex and these are where to make sure you're bringing in a professional to help you. If you're encountering these issues, you want to have an attorney making sure that it's taken care of correctly.
Why You Shouldn't Do It Yourself
When people ask me, "What has to be in my Will?" this is one of those reasons why I tell them doing it yourself isn't always a good idea. You may look and see that all you've got to do is have it in writing with a couple of witnesses and have to sign it and that's great. But there can be more to it, there are nuances, little pebbles that you wouldn't want to trip over that would create problems for your family after you're gone. That DIY website may not have that extra help that you need or frankly they might not even be giving you the right form.
You may be signing a short Will when you need a longer one. You may be using a really long Will form thinking you've got everything you need in there, when in fact you've got a bunch of provisions that don't make any sense for you, and you're missing the key provision that you would want for your family. So to make sure you're getting this done right I always suggest you work with an attorney. You're going to sit down with them if you had it drafted somewhere else or if you did a DIY website and have them sit down with you and check it out and make sure the Will is what you actually want to have happen. Or you need to make sure it's signed correctly. You can work with the professional to make sure the signing ceremony is done correctly. Attorneys who do estate planning, we do this all the time. If you just take it to a notary at the bank, you might not get it right.
If you're ready to get started with your Will in Minnesota, let's set up a Legal Strategy Session, a 15 or 20-minute phone call to get that discussion started, to see where you are in the estate planning process and get you some next steps you can get going. There aren't a lot of requirements to sign a Will in Minnesota, but it's not something you want to just take a chance on. You want to make sure you're working with a professional and get it done correctly.