What happens to an unsigned will?

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2021 | Probate Litigation |

As a general rule, a will is only valid if it is signed. However, a Minnesota probate judge may adhere to the instructions of an unsigned will if there is reason to believe that it represents the testator’s true intentions. There are several variables that a court might consider when determining if this is the case.

Does anyone dispute the legitimacy of the document?

If no one mounts a legal challenge to the terms of the will that is presented to a probate judge, they are typically allowed to stand. It’s important to note that you generally cannot challenge a will unless you are a named beneficiary in the document itself. However, it may be possible to pursue such a challenge if you would stand to inherit property if the document were declared invalid. In most cases, the executor is responsible for contacting anyone who might be considered a beneficiary so that they have an opportunity to participate in legal proceedings.

Does a signed copy exist?

It’s not uncommon for an individual to make multiple copies of a will. Typically, the testator will remain in possession of the only copy that is signed while passing out unsigned copies to friends, family members or legal representatives. If a signed copy is found, it should be presented to the judge overseeing your loved one’s case as quickly as possible.

Did anyone witness the will’s creation?

Anyone who saw the testator create the will may be able to testify to its validity during a probate proceeding. The deceased person’s attorney may also be able to introduce evidence that verifies that an unsigned will represents that individual’s true wishes.