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Q: You’ve written that you only have your clients sign one will. Can I sign multiple copies so that I can give one to each of my children?

A: Can you? Sure. Should you? No, I don’t think that you should have more than one signed copy.

A will is one of the most important documents that a person signs during their lifetime. Since the will is so important, it should be kept someplace safe and secure. Also, remember that a will is amendable and revocable by its creator so long as they have the capacity to make changes.

Since the will is such an important document that you can amend or revoke, I’m not sure that it is a good idea having a couple of them floating around, even if the persons that have them are family members or loved ones.

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In the past, I have known some attorneys that have had their clients sign two copies of the will. One signed copy leaves the office with the client and the other one goes into the attorney's safe. Personally, I would sooner poke myself with a sharp stick than assume that liability. In 26 years, I have only held onto one will. That will was for a client that was about to undergo a risky lifesaving medical procedure. I held onto that will for about three weeks until I could deliver it to my client. It was a pretty stressful three weeks for both of us.

Rather than wondering if you should execute more than one will, I would ask why you would want to give a copy of the will to each of your kids? A will contains pretty personal stuff and I’m not sure why you would want to share it with others, even if those people are your kids. I’m not suggesting that you can’t discuss the terms with your loved ones if you want to, but why give them a copy of it? It just seems like a really bad idea to give control over the document to someone else.

Although I don’t keep a signed copy of the will, I do scan them so that I have a digital copy. Our courts have moved to paperless filing so I keep a digital copy to make it easy to file online. I still need the original will, but I find that the digital copy is handy to get the ball rolling.

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if I get an email from a local attorney explaining the reasons that multiple signed wills are a good idea, and I’ll of course defer to my more learned counsel. However, I have never asked a client to sign more than one will and I’m pretty sure that I never will.

Christopher W. Yugo is an attorney in Crown Point. Chris’ Estate Planning Article appears online every Sunday at www.nwi.com. Address questions to Chris in care of The Times, 601 W. 45th Ave., Munster, IN 46321 or to Chrisyugolaw@gmail.com. Chris’ information is meant to be general in nature. Specific legal, tax, or insurance questions should be referred to your attorney, accountant, or estate-planning specialist.

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