A common situation I encounter is when a client brings a will they drafted themselves to our first meeting. They spent time online, using a website to help them “create” the will. Often times, the document looks like the standardized form that it is. The client’s name and personalized information are in a different font or size than the rest of the document. The website company has their copyright notices in the document. Often there are blanks or other information missing from the document.
After flipping through the pages, I always check the final page to see if it was signed properly. Many times, the document does not have the proper amount of witnesses.
What Does The Law Require?
In Minnesota, a will must be:
- In writing
- Signed by the person making the will
- Witnessed and signed by at least two people
While the requirements are straightforward, there can be a variety of other issues that arise. The person’s will may be signed by someone else if there’s a court order appointing a conservator. It can also be signed by someone else under the direction of the person in certain circumstances. When these other issues may be a factor, it is very important to speak to an attorney to ensure they are done correctly.
Other issues may arise regarding the “competency” of someone to sign a will. The person signing the will needs to be able to understand what they are signing and the nature of their property and obligations. Especially where competency may be an issue, it’s very important to speak to an attorney before signing a will.
While most people who contact my office simply need a straightforward will, some have complicating issues that may arise. Rather than pay for a pre-fabricated online form, spend some time talking to an attorney. Attorneys can help you identify if there are important issues that you need to consider before signing that document.