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Wills and Estate Planning

Legal Planning


How do I make a will?

First, find an attorney with experience in drafting wills and estate planning. Ask friends and relatives for the name of an attorney that they have worked with, or contact Cancer Legal Line for help in finding an attorney in Minnesota to help you.

Most attorneys will have you fill out a (lengthy) questionnaire regarding your wishes and the size and content of your estate. Be prepared to provide your attorney with the following information:

1. The contents of your estate.
You need to include all of what you own and approximately how much it is worth. If you are married, you need to determine what is owned by you alone and what is owned jointly with your spouse. Items that need to be covered include bank accounts, stocks and bonds, real estate, retirement accounts, pension benefits, vehicles, personal property, business interests and life insurance. Your estate plan will depend on the value of these items and what you want to do with them.

2. Who you would like to designate as your personal representative.

3. If applicable, who you want to appoint as guardians of your minor children,

4. The people and/or organizations who you would like as beneficiaries of your assets.

After meeting with you to discuss your plan, your attorney will draft your will. You should carefully read over the draft to confirm that it disposes of your property in a way that meets your wishes, making sure all of your requirements are covered. If you don’t understand anything included in the draft, ask your attorney to explain it to you until you do understand.

In order to finalize your will, your attorney will have you sign your will in the presence of two witnesses.

You do not need to store or file the document in any particular place, but it is usually recommended that you keep it in a fire-safe box if possible and that you tell your appointed personal representative where they can locate your will when it comes time to file it with the appropriate court. It is not always a good idea to keep your will in a safe deposit box unless someone who is a signer on the box survives you. The court will want to probate the original will and if it is not easily accessible, unnecessary expense may result.