Is a Do-It-Yourself Will Legal in Wisconsin?

By A.L. Kennedy

Wisconsin law sets out certain requirements that a will must meet before a Wisconsin probate court will accept it. A do-it-yourself will is legal in Wisconsin as long as it meets the requirements listed in Wisconsin law. The Wisconsin State Bar recommends talking to an attorney before preparing your own Wisconsin will.

Wisconsin law sets out certain requirements that a will must meet before a Wisconsin probate court will accept it. A do-it-yourself will is legal in Wisconsin as long as it meets the requirements listed in Wisconsin law. The Wisconsin State Bar recommends talking to an attorney before preparing your own Wisconsin will.

Minimum Legal Requirements

The minimum requirements for a legal Wisconsin will are that it is signed by the person who made it and that the signature is witnessed by at least two people, according to the Wisconsin State Bar. The person who wrote the will and the witnesses must all be at least 18 years old and able to comprehend what a will is. The person who made the will may sign in front of the witnesses, or he may sign it beforehand and confirm to the witnesses that the signature is his.

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Contents of a Wisconsin Will

In order to be legal in Wisconsin, a do-it-yourself will should contain at least one sentence or phrase that gives property to someone. The will does not have to give away all of the property belonging to the person who makes it, but the Wisconsin State Bar recommends that a will cover all of your property so that none of it is tied up in probate longer than necessary. Although you do not have to list a personal representative or guardian for children under age 18 in your will, you may wish to name these people in your will so that you know your affairs will be left to someone you trust.

Freedom of Action

In addition to being at least 18 years old and possessing mental capacity, you must make your Wisconsin will free of coercion, intimidation or fraud by another person. Otherwise, the probate court may find your will is invalid because it expresses the desires of the person who forced, intimidated or coerced you into writing it instead of expressing your own free wishes. You may wish to include a phrase in your will stating you are making it according to your own free will.

Wills Made Outside Wisconsin

A do-it-yourself will you made while you lived in another state may also be legal in Wisconsin. To be legal, a will from another state must meet the probate laws in Wisconsin, the state where you made the will, or the state where you signed the will. Since Wisconsin has a marital property law and a same-sex domestic partnership property law that differ from those in most states, you may want to ask a Wisconsin attorney to review your out of state will to ensure everything is in order, according to the Wisconsin State Bar.

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Wisconsin Last Will & Testament

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Concerns for Making a Will

Two things concern most people who are making wills: that their will can carry out their wishes, and that they minimize the risk of a will contest, according to FindLaw. You can help decrease the chances that your will may be found invalid after you die by planning ahead. Consider sharing your concerns for making a will with an attorney, especially if you have minor children or substantial investments, advises FindLaw.

Last Will & Testament Documents

Your last will and testament describes how you want your property distributed to your chosen beneficiaries when you die. To ensure your assets go to the people you choose, you may use several documents along with the will itself. These documents are used to supplement or amend your will in order to make your wishes clear.

How to Add an Addendum to a Will

Adding an addendum to a will requires a document called a codicil. If drafted appropriately, the codicil will be considered a part of the will and read alongside the original document when the estate is probated. Probate codes, which define the drafting requirements for wills and codicils, are written by each state. However, the Uniform Probate Code has significantly influenced all of the state probate codes. Therefore, the UPC is a good basis for a general discussion on how to amend a will. You should check the provisions specific to your state to ensure that your codicil is properly drafted.

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