Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Where There’s A Will

Some lawyers hang onto the original documents when they do a will, looking to get more work in future and enhance their prospects of being retained for a probate proceeding. This may still work for some of us, but the increased mobility of clients, lawyers, and others has made this goal very elusive.

For myself, I prefer to file the original with the probate court in the county of testator’s residence. It costs 27 bucks, but I think it’s worth it:

  1. There is no question as to its whereabouts or safety.
  2. MNCIS, our interconnected court information system, makes a record of the deposit of a will, so it will surface regardless where in Minnesota it’s filed, probated, or the testator moves.
  3. Confidentiality is assured, since it is in a sealed envelope.
  4. There’s no worry about the mechanics of safekeeping or “what if something happens to the lawyer?”
  5. The unpleasant possibilities of destruction by a disgruntled successor or inadvertent loss by the client are avoided;
  6. If someone else does the probate, I probably won’t even hear about it, so I won’t feel bad.
  7. The client gets bragging rights, so other potential clients get the impression my client’s lawyer is really good about this stuff.
  8. I don’t have to worry about the physical safety of hundreds of wills, nor cross-check the obituaries with my stored wills.

Dave Porter

Attorney at Law, Minneapolis

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