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3 requirements for an enforceable will in Minnesota

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Estate Planning

When individuals have children or get diagnosed with serious medical issues, they may decide to put together estate planning paperwork. Wills give someone an opportunity to name a guardian to care for their children. They also address the distribution of someone’s resources after their death. Those who invest the time and consideration necessary to establish a will typically expect that their family members and the Minnesota probate courts should respect and uphold that will in the future.

Unfortunately, some people establish documents that do not hold up under scrutiny. They may have downloaded boilerplate wills from the internet or attempted to execute a document on their own without any legal guidance. The wills they draft could end up set aside during probate proceedings if they do not meet the necessary standards.

What does Minnesota require for a will to be valid and enforceable?

Appropriate testamentary capacity

Most people need to be legal adults to create a will. There is an assumption that once someone turns 18, they have the capability of establishing a will and other estate planning paperwork. However, not everyone actually has the testamentary capacity to create legally-binding documents. Severe mental health challenges, neurological conditions like dementia and age-related cognitive decline could all lead to questions about whether an individual had the necessary capacity to draft a valid will.

At least two adult witnesses

The presence of witnesses is a crucial requirement for a valid will in Minnesota. Witnesses can confirm that the document is the will drafted and signed by the testator. They can also affirm someone’s cognitive state at the time of the document signing. Minnesota requires two adult witnesses for wills. Ideally, those witnesses are people who do not have a direct financial interest in the estate, as that may compromise their credibility during probate proceedings.

A written document that complies with state code

There are many ways that individuals can convey their wishes to others. Video and audio recordings may seem like a more personable solution for estate planning than a bland printed document. However, the law requires a written document. Video or audio recordings typically do not meet the necessary standards to serve as testamentary instruments in Minnesota. People can leave video footage augmenting or explaining their wills, but they should not rely on a recording to convey their wishes to others and the courts.

Small mistakes during the estate planning process can diminish how effective the documents prove to be. Consulting with an attorney may help people draft valid and enforceable estate planning documents, including wills. Testators who learn about state requirements and restrictions can use that information to establish effective estate plans.