A will or testament is a legal document that expresses a person’s wishes as to how their property is to be distributed after their death and as to which person is to manage the property until its final distribution. It’s a court document that controls the probate process.

That’s a pivotal piece of information to remember: a will is a legal court document. There are certain procedures that need to be followed to make it valid. If those procedures aren’t followed then the document isn’t a legal will. It’s a piece of paper that means nothing.

Read our article on what makes a valid will to find out what those procedures are.

My Grandfather’s Will

Let me recount the story of when I read my grandfather’s will:

When my grandfather passed, we were going through his files, and we found a signed will document. The document said that all his money goes to the University of Minnesota. My grandmother was devastated. I had some family members who were just very nervous about what that was going to look like.

I took one look at my grandfather’s will, and I knew it was invalid. And the reason is, it didn’t have witnesses. It was signed, but a will has to have two adult witnesses, legally competent witnesses watching that signature, and then signing off, otherwise it’s not an admissible document. It is not a legal document.

Creating Your Will

If you do create a will document, you have to have your signature and two witnesses. That’s what it requires to get it submitted to the judge. That does not mean that it’s a good will. It doesn’t mean that it follows proper Minnesota court procedure.

Remember – a will is a legal document meant to control the probate court system. A poorly drafted will can leave a big headache for your family or even cost them thousands!

Always make sure you consult the experts when creating your legal will.