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Is an initialed will valid if the decedent previously had a will that all pages were signed with full name?

Pine City, MN |

My Grandmother found out she was sick, in Jan. 2012 she made her will. Each bottom of every page was signed with her full name in her fancy handwriting. She went into the hospital on a Monday and met with her attorney to make last minute changes to her will, so there was a new will drawn up. She was started on a low dose of Morphine that evening (she was very terminally ill). She signed her new will on Tuesday Morning around 9am and signed each page with only her first and last name initials. The hospital called us at 2am and said she was doing well and would last. She ended up passing away at 4:30pm Wednesday afternoon. How valid is the last will that she made? Is it valid with only her initials and obviously not her fancy handwriting? Do you have live so many hours after signing a will?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. Best answer

    The signing of each page of a will, or the initialing of each page, is something which is done through excessive caution, and is not a legal requirement. The decedent's signature is, however, a definite requirement, but it need not be "fancy handwriting". If the decedent were physically unable to sign, she could direct someone else to sign for her. Two adult witnesses must have observed the will signing, and they must also sign the document. It appears that the legal issue, if there is any, may not relate so much to the signing of the will, but to the issue of whether your grandmother knew what she was doing, and that she did it voluntarily.


  2. Per the MN state website:

    Wills can be changed either by writing and executing a new one or by adding a “codicil,” which is an amendment to a will. The codicil must be written, signed and witnessed the same way as the will, and should be kept with the original will.

    My answer is not intended to be giving legal advice and this topic can be a complex area where the advice of a licensed attorney in your State should be obtained.


  3. Hello. I am sorry for the loss of your grandmother. This website is not providing legal advice and only provides general information: Assuming you have a substantive concern, you should immediately seek private legal counsel, because likely the facts and issues that need to be explored go far beyond those you stated. There is no rule that a person has to remain alive a certain length of time after signing her/his will in order for the will to be valid. A person's signature often varies over time, and varies due to the physical and other circumstances of the signing. If you reside in a remote area, you may contact any Minnesota licensed attorney, as some attorneys will make special arrangements to provide legal help to you. Some attorneys are available seven days for emergency legal needs. Many attorneys will confer initially at no charge. Then, if legal work is performed, some attorneys will provide a reduced fee for financial hardship. Some attorneys may also assist you in limited scope manner to conserve legal costs. All the best.

    Tricia Dwyer, Esq., Estate Planning Law, Wills, Elder Law, Rule 14 Qualified Neutral, Minnesota Supreme Court Roster Mediator, Tricia Dwyer, Esq. & Associates PLLC, Phone: 612.296-9666 EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR until 8 p.m. daily. See www.dwyerlawfirm.net Tricia Dwyer, Esq. & Assoc. PLLC


  4. I'm very sorry for your loss. As noted by Attorney Dwyer, it is vitally important that you retain an experienced attorney as soon as possible to review this matter. Good luck to you.

    This information is presented as a public service. It should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor considered to be the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. I am licensed in Connecticut and New York and my answers are based upon the law in those jurisdictions. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if I were to review a client's file and have the opportunity to interview the client. Accordingly, I strongly urge you to retain an attorney in your jurisdiction with respect to any legal matter.

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