Creating a last will and testament is an important element of any well-crafted estate plan. With a last will and testament, you can provide your personal representative as to how you want your assets distributed after you pass on. Your will can also name your preferred personal representative (also known as an executor), refer to trusts, and provide guidance to the court as to who you believe should be the guardian of your minor children. With so many important issues being addressed in that document, you should take all appropriate steps to ensure your will is valid. There are specific requirements in Minnesota for a will to be valid, such as you must have testamentary capacity at the time of signing, it must be in writing, and you must sign the document. Making sure your will is self-authenticating, also called self-proving, is one step you can take to help make sure your will is enforced.
Minnesota statute 524.2-504 provides that a will can be made self-proved if the testator and two witnesses sign a specific affidavit that is attached to the will and signed at the same time as the will. These signatures must be notarized. Minnesota law provides that any will that includes this affidavit properly executed will be automatically presumed by the probate court to be an authentic will signed by the testator. Note that the witnesses must sign the document in your presence. It is a good idea, although not required, to use disinterested witnesses who do not stand to benefit from your will.
A self-proved will has the main advantage of making it more difficult to challenge the will. However, testators should note that the self-proved will is not totally immune to being challenged and struck down as invalid by the court. The extra hurdle for challenging a will is especially important for those who are disinheriting close relatives or have a non-traditional family structure. For example, if you have a long-term partner that does not get along with your family, a self-proved will can make it more certain that your partner will inherit as you dictate in your will and your family will be unsuccessful in setting aside your will.
We have extensive experience helping our clients craft wills. Call us today at (320) 299-4249 to talk about your estate plan.