What do you do with a will after you make one?

On Behalf of | Nov 13, 2019 | Estate Planning

Making a will is a big event. Like getting married, buying a house or having a child, it can make you feel like you have truly reached adulthood.

And like those other events, it often leaves people wondering, “What now?” A will needs occasional attention as your circumstances change and care to keep it safe.

Keeping your will current

As your life and finances change, you should revisit your will and revise it as needed. Checking it on your birthday might be depressing for some, so consider waiting for more practical life events. Such changes could include:

  • Birth of children or grandchildren
  • Death of a spouse, children or grandchildren
  • Marriage or divorce for you or a child
  • Financial changes like inheritance, buying or selling a home, retirement, etc.
  • Major changes to your health
  • Moving to another state or country
  • Your chosen representatives die, change, or move out of state

There are only two valid ways to change a will

Scratching out text or writing in the margins are not valid ways to change a will in Minnesota.

You can only change the original by either:

  • Adding another document (called a “codicil”) explaining any revisions
  • Canceling the old will and creating a replacement.

Two witnesses must sign the changes.

Keeping your will safe and accessible

Protect the original, hand-signed copy of your will, even if you make physical or digital copies of it. However, digital copies stored on thumb drives, CDs, or in online email or other systems are convenient and can be helpful evidence if necessary.

Many attorneys keep duplicate originals of legal documents, and trusted friends or relatives are often glad to keep copies of important papers for safekeeping.

A safe or document box in your home should have a sturdy locking mechanism. It should be fireproof, and its contents sealed in plastic in case of a flood. Of course, the whole thing can be stolen.

Renting a safe deposit box is less expensive than many people might expect and would be a good choice. However, its contents would typically be inaccessible for a while after your death.