Author Topic: Copying a will?  (Read 852 times)


  • Magnum Stache
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Copying a will?
« on: April 13, 2017, 03:35:18 AM »
Husband has a will, done by a lawyer.  Due to a misunderstanding the apointment maker, he got one, and I didn't.  We though the appointment was for both, but it turned out to only be for one and they would not flex on that. 

I want exactly the same things he has in his will.  Exactly, other than if he dies after me, he has everything that isn't directed to a non-profit going to his family, and if I die after him I'd want that to go to mine.  Is there any good reason why we couldn't just copy everything in his exactly, replacing his name and identifying info with mine?  Then we could get it notarized.  Any reason this is a bad idea?  And since I'm not super keen on retyping it all, if I photo copied his with blank paper placed over anything that needed to be changed and then wrote in my info and of course signed the doc in blue ink, is there any reason that would be less legal than a freshly typed document, if you could even tell?  Is that really meaningfully different than a document printed on a computer?

(It it matters, we aren't stealing anyone's work or anything like that, or at least not in a way that I think matters since the will was done free through the military base legal office.  We are now at a place that doesn't offer that service because this base is so small, though we are entitled to it so we aren't getting a service for which we'd otherwise be paying.) 

We don't have kids, so I'm not really super concerned about what happens with our estate.  We'll be dead.  So intestate wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, but I'd rather our families and chosen non-profits get more and the government get less.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Copying a will?
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2017, 08:51:09 AM »
IANAL, and I don't even play one on TV.  In your shoes, I would do exactly as you suggest.

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  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Copying a will?
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2017, 11:18:54 AM »
One of the reasons why most states require witnesses and/or notaries for wills is to ensure validity. 

By the time the will makes it to probate, the person who wrote it can't be asked to clear up potential confusion (obviously), hence the need for the more formal verification requirements.  That is also why many states won't accept mutilated wills (wills where terms have been crossed out or rewritten by hand) - because it is often too difficult for the probate court to be certain who made the change, when the change was made, why the change was made, etc. 

For those reasons, if it were me, I would not copy, block out, and rewrite by hand any changes.  Even if your state still allows hand-written wills (which some don't) having a typed will with hand-written changes is asking the court to not accept the will as valid. 

That being said, assuming you trusted the lawyer who did your husband's will, I do think you would probably be OK just retyping the exact same thing, and signing it in the exact same manner (witnesses, notary, etc.). 


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Copying a will?
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2017, 12:30:24 PM »
There are regularly requests like these to do it on the cheap. 
Intestate seems almost better than an iffy, photocopied will.  Particularly since your question probably took more time to write up than it would to just draft a simple will in your handiest word processing software. 

In Estate Planning, the reason to have good documents created isn't the disbursement of your Salt & Pepper shaker collection or the re-homng of your beloved cat.  It's appointing the person who can decide how long is long enough for you to be on a ventilator.  If that person is you, and only you, and you decide "never under any circumstances" or "3 days, then pull the plug" or "I trust ________ to decide based on medical professionals advice" it is better for a loved one in shock to have specific instructions to absolve them of guilt in trying to interpret and follow your wishes.  From personal experience, a clear "3 days" spared alot of grief.  In the case of another relative who developed Alzheimer's, it spared us the trauma and expense of having her declared incompetent because she had already drawn up an ironclad POA that appointed a decider. 

Consider all of the following:
Advanced Directive
Healthcare Proxy
Power of Attorney
Trust (if the balance of your estate warrants the expense).

IANAL, but I've listed them in the order of importance to me.