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Do I Have to Record my Will Somewhere?

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on May 31, 2011 9:46 AM

Is recording a will one of the requirements to make your will valid? Do you need to go file a will down at some county government building?

The answer is a simple no.

What many do not realize is that officially recording a will is not one of the requirements to making a valid, enforceable will. Neither is getting the will notarized.

So, what do you actually need to get a will completed? After the will is drafted according to the proper guidelines, the will needs to be witnessed by at least two witnesses who will then sign the will indicating that they were present when the will was signed by the writer.

The witnesses must both be over the age of 18, and they cannot be beneficiaries of the will.

So, why do people think that recording a will is a requirement? Maybe because it seems so simple without having to do that extra procedural step. Sure, if you file a will down at some county government building, you are making your will more "official" in the sense that it's out in the open.

But, you could always store your will someplace more private. Like, underneath your mattress for safekeeping. A common safekeeping place is a safety deposit box in the bank. Or, maybe you'd like to keep it in the desk drawer of your study.

Either way, so long as the will has been properly witnessed, and is in compliance with the probate laws of your jurisdiction, it's valid. Of course, one drawback to not recording to will or filing the will is that if the witnesses to the will die - and if you did not inform other people of the whereabouts of the will - your last wishes may not be carried out because nobody has a way of knowing you had a will in the first place.

So, the common misconception that recording a will, or having to file a will, is not necessarily true. But, if you have any questions about the requirements of a will - which can be complicated, depending on your assets - discussing your questions with a wills attorney can be helpful.

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