How To Change A Will In Minnesota

by Flanders Law Firm LLC on April 15, 2013

WillIf you are one of the Minnesotans who has taken the time to create a will, congratulations.   The vast majority of Minnesotans have no such estate plan and you’ve taken an important step in ensuring your family is looked after once you’re gone.

While it’s great that you made the will, after a while changes might need to be made.  Life happens, friends come and go, finances change and your desires for the future can shift. In such cases it is essential that your will be altered to reflect your changed reality.  Doing so is not always intuitive and the following post will help explore some of the steps involved.

How Often Should I Review My Will?

So you make a will and had everything just the way you wanted it and now something in your life has changed that has you wondering about making some tweaks? That’s perfectly understandable and periodic assessments of your will should always be done to ensure life events have not changed your estate-planning objectives.

Individuals should review their wills after major changes occur in their life to be sure the plan continues to reflect your intentions. Marital change is a perfect example of such a change.  In the event of a divorce, state law automatically revokes any provisions in favor of the ex-spouse contained in your will. While that might be good for most people, maybe you ended your marriage on good terms and intend to leave something behind for your ex. If so, that change needs to be expressly made to ensure your wishes are carried out. Same thing with a new marriage, no automatic changes happen to a will after marriage takes place and you will likely want to alter your will to provide for your new spouse.

The following are some other examples of important events that might lead you to consider making changes to your estate plan:

  • The birth of a new child or grandchild;
  • A death in the family that removes a named heir;
  • Moves to or from different states that could impact property distribution;
  • Large swings in the value of any of your important assets; or
  • A desire to change the person designated as your personal representative.

How To Make Changes to a Minnesota Will

First things first, wills in Minnesota can only be changed in one of two ways: 1) an addendum, known as a codicil, can be written which acts as an amendment to the original will; or 2) an entirely new will needs to be written, revoking and replacing the old version.

These two possibilities for change might seem to ignore the obvious and simple solution of crossing out things you want to change in your original will. Do not do this. Handwritten additions or deletions are not considered valid in Minnesota, even if they have been signed and dated. Think about it, how is a probate judge supposed to be sure that someone else did not just tamper with your will and make the changes they wanted?

For an alteration to a will in Minnesota to be valid, it must be done in the same way that the will was created in the first place. Most importantly, Minnesota Statutes Section 524.2-502 says that there must be two witnesses who sign off on the creation of either your new will or the codicil.

A Minnesta Codicil versus a New Will

If you’re ready to make a change you need to ask yourself how big the alteration is going to be. Codicils are amendments to a will and thus leave the majority of the will intact. They can work well in cases where relatively small, straightforward changes are in order. For instance, if you only need to change the name of your personal representative or alter a figure contained in your will, a codicil is a good way of accomplishing your task.

In cases where the changes are more widespread, such as a reordering of property disbursements or a total rethinking of how you want to want to treat some heirs, it is likely better to just draft a brand new will. Crafting a detailed codicil that captures all these changes would be tedious and potentially confusing, possible leaving your will open to multiple interpretations. A new will can also be a good idea if you do not want your heirs to later find out what changes were made and what they started off with by viewing the codicil.

Though it may be confusing at first, changing a will does not have to be an overly complicated process. An experienced Minnesota estate-planning lawyer can help walk you through the process of establishing and altering a will. For more information on estate planning in Minnesota, along with a variety of other topics, contact Joseph M. Flanders of Flanders Law Firm at (612) 424-0398.

Source:Probate and Planning,” published at AG.State.MN.US.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

The Importance Of A Will In Minnesota

How Does Probate Work In Minnesota?


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jan timmermann October 26, 2015 at 3:03 am

My mother wants to change her will. She believes my youngest sister has manipulated her into signing will with possible joint tenancy of house my mother and step-father owned. My mother wants to have new will done to include all 6 kids. Step father deceased 19 years ago. I live far from her but will go there soon to help her. My brother too. Is it still possible to change a joint tenancy of house? She wants the deed to house changed but has no copy of it. I believe my sister has a copy but is not being straight forward. I believe my mother will need to sell house soon to live in assisted or independent living.


tod dunfee November 8, 2016 at 6:35 am

Simply amazing article! I am sure there are many people who are faced with the same problems I recently had. I couldn’t find I’ve forgotten the last time I filled out a form on paper.


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