One question clients ask occasionally is: what are the requirements for a will to be valid in Minnesota?
There are a couple basic requirements for the document itself to be considered a valid last will and testament. Most obvious, the person making the will must sign the document of his own free will and be of sound mind. Second, the signing of the will must be witnessed by two competent individuals at least age 18. That's all that is required for the document to be a valid last will and testament - but estate planning is much more than just the technical process of producing a valid will. There are many other factors involved in the estate planning process to ensure the documents that are produced actually meet your estate planning goals and allow your estate to pass to your loved ones efficiently and thoughtfully.
Many wills include a self-proving affidavit. This is usually the last page of the will where the testator (the person signing the will) and the witnesses attest and sign that they did indeed sign and witness the document in front of a notary public. This can allow the will to go through the probate process smoothly in many states, though it is not a requirement for a valid will in Minnesota.
An attorney that regularly practices estate planning will also help you identify what is important for you and your family and ensure that the documents meet those goals. Often, parents want an inheritance for a minor protected and managed by someone they trust until the minor reaches an age of maturity, such as 25, 30, or 35. Parents of children with special needs want to ensure they are not compromising health care programs and other benefits. A thorough estate planning attorney will also discuss income tax, capital gains tax, and estate tax implications for each client and work to manage those taxes through the estate plan by setting it up for the best tax treatment.
Missing any one of these statutory requirements could make what is purported to be a will invalid and unenforceable. However, in our view, the bigger risk is you end up with a valid document that fails to properly account for your situation and estate planning goals. While there are many options available for internet wills and cut-and-paste "estate plans", nothing can replace the thoughtful counsel of an experienced estate planning attorney and the cost is often comparable.
Our attorneys are here to discuss your estate plan and are able to provide a no-obligation fee quote after learning your goals. You can reach us on our Contact Page, send us an email, or give us a call at (507) 288-5567.
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