Is It Illegal to Copy Last Will & Testament Papers?

By Teo Spengler

As long as you have the right to use the copy machine, no penalties attach to copying your last will and testament. In fact, it may be prudent for someone making a will to provide a copy of the document to her spouse, attorney and the person she names as executor. In most cases, however, the original will, not a copy, must be filed with the court for probate.

As long as you have the right to use the copy machine, no penalties attach to copying your last will and testament. In fact, it may be prudent for someone making a will to provide a copy of the document to her spouse, attorney and the person she names as executor. In most cases, however, the original will, not a copy, must be filed with the court for probate.

The Purpose of a Will

A will is a legal document in which you describe how you want your property distributed at your death. You can also use the will to name a trusted person to manage your estate through the probate process and identify your choice for the guardians of your minor children.

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State Requirements

The making of wills is regulated by state law, so requirements vary depending upon where you live. Some states, like California, allow unwitnessed handwritten wills, but most wills must be signed by at least two adult witnesses and/or a notary public to be valid. Will forms are available from court websites and online legal service providers.

Copying Wills

It is legal to make a copy of your own last will and testament, and generally equally legal to make a copy of any last will and testament that has been provided to you without copying restrictions. While it may be wise to provide a copy of the document to key individuals, such as your attorney, think hard before handing out copies to your heirs since you can change the terms of your will at any time.

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How to Amend a Last Will & Testament

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How to Write an Amendment to a Will

Once a will is written, signed, and witnessed, it is legal in most states as long as it meets state law requirements. To change a completed will, you must either add an amendment, known as a codicil, or destroy the will and create a new one. You cannot alter your will by simply crossing something out or adding something new. Writing an amendment to a will is a simple process that is legal as long as it is signed, dated and witnessed like the original will.

How Much Does it Cost to Create a Will?

More than half of American adults have no will, notes the American Bar Association. This is due in part to the general perception that will preparation is complicated and expensive. While lawyer time adds up fast, people with simple estates can usually prepare their own wills at very little cost -- and since a will lets you name your heirs and the guardian of your minor children, the costs of not having a will can be substantially greater.

Is a Written Last Will & Testament a Legal Document?

A written last will and testament is a legal document, and will be accepted by a probate court as long as it meets all the requirements for a valid last will and testament in the state where the court sits. You may write your own will, or you may have a lawyer draft one for you.

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