Estate Planning | Proving a Will

by Flanders Law Firm LLC on September 2, 2011

As I discussed in my prior post, a beneficiary of someone’s estate can challenge the validity of a person’s Will in a court of law. Fortunately, there are ways to show that the Will is the actual instrument that a deceased person made when the personal representative and estate planning attorney initially submit the Will to the court.

As discussed, the process of submitting a Will to the court is called “probating the Will”.  Many states in the United States defines Wills as an actual will,  other testamentary documents, and codicils.  Codicils are written changes that are made to the original Will at a later date in time.

In the initial meeting with a personal representative, and a Minnesota state planning lawyer, must determine if the actual original Will or other estate planning documents exist.  The court’s require that the original document be submitted to the court.  If you have ever seen a newspaper publication where a lawyer or personal representative is seeking a Will, this is the reason why.

Assuming the original Will is found, it must then be submitted to the Court along with a document that is typically labeled a “Petition for Unsupervised Administration and Probate of Will.”  There are different names for these kinds of documents, but they all must include the original Will.

In order for the Will to be valid in many states, the Will must meet the following requirements:

  1. The person executing the Will must be over the age of eighteen (18) years
  2. The person must be of sound mind
  3. The Will must be in writing and signed by the person making the Will
  4. The Will must be signed in the presence of the person making the Will and at least two (2) witnesses

As I stated, each state’s laws may vary on the requirements of a valid Will and you should check with your estate planning attorney before doing any estate planning.

Finally, if there is any doubt as to the validity of the Will, the proper procedure for a personal representative and his or her attorney to take is to file the document with the court and seek a determination by the court as to the document’s validity.  This often entails presenting evidence at a short hearing.  If the Will can be proved to be valid, the probate administration should continue unimpeded by the courts.

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