What are the requirements to sign a will in Minnesota?

If you look at the law, there are only three requirements to sign a will in Minnesota:

  1. It has to be in writing;
  2. It has to be signed by the person making the will; and
  3. There are 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. We will have the notary notarize the signatures of the people signing it. Is it required under state law? No. Is it a 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 Will Signing Issues

When it comes to signing a will, there can be other issues that come up. For example, if there's a conservatorship involved, you can actually have the conservator create and sign a will on behalf of somebody. You can also, under certain circumstances, direct somebody else to sign your will for you. And there can also be competency issues. So if you're having somebody who's signing a will and you're not sure, they really understand the will they're not really up on what they're signing.

These are not the only issues that can arise, but they are just some common ones. Hopefully, you can see from these issues that these are more complex and these are where you want to make sure you're bringing in a professional to help you. You want to have an attorney make sure that if you're encountering one of those issues, or one of those issues is happening, that you're making sure that it's taken care of correctly.

So when people ask me "What has to be in my will?" this is one of those reasons why I tell them not to do it yourself. Because you may look and see all I'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, there are 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 long one. You may be having a really long will 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.

Next Steps

To make sure you're getting this done right, I always suggest you work with an attorney. You can even 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 do this all the time. Just taking 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 where we'll hop on 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.

Andrew Ayers
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I work with business and estate planning clients to craft legal solutions to protect their legacies.