A valid will in Maine must be:
- In writing;
- Signed by the testator or in the testator’s name by some other individual in the testator’s conscious presence and by the testator’s direction; and
- Signed by at least two individuals, each of whom signed within a reasonable time after the individual witnessed either the signing of the will or the testator’s acknowledgment of that signature or acknowledgment of the will.
The requirements to execute a valid will under Maine law are found in 18-C M.R.S. §2-502.
Who Can Make a Valid Will In Maine?
An individual of sound mind who is 18 or more years of age or a legally emancipated minor may make a valid will in Maine. See 18-C M.R.S. § 2-501.
To be of sound mind (to have testamentary capacity) to make a valid will in Maine, the following definition is used:
A `disposing mind’ involves the exercise of so much mind and memory as would enable a person to transact common and simple kinds of business with that intelligence which belongs to the weakest class of sound minds; and a disposing memory exists when one can recall the general nature, condition and extent of his property, and his relations to those to whom he gives, and also to those from whom he excludes, his bounty. He must have active memory enough to bring to his mind the nature and particulars of the business to be transacted, and mental power enough to appreciate them, and act with sense and judgment in regard to them. He must have sufficient capacity to comprehend the condition of his property, his relations to the persons who were or should have been the objects of his bounty, and the scope and bearing of the provisions of his will. He must have sufficient active memory to collect in his mind, without prompting, the particulars or elements of the business to be transacted, and to hold them in his mind a sufficient length of time to perceive at least their obvious relations to each other, and be able to form some rational judgment in relation to them.
Basically, the testator needs to have a general understanding of his property, what he is doing with it in the will, the natural objects of his bounty, and who he is giving and not giving his assets to.
A Valid Will In Maine Must Be Signed By the Testator Or For the Testator
Maine law requires that a valid will is “signed by the testator or in the testator’s name by some other individual in the testator’s conscious presence and by the testator’s direction.”
Conscious presence means that the testator must be aware that the person signing the will for the testator is signing the will. For example, the testator cannot be asleep in another room while another person executes the will. The testator must direct the other person to sign, and be aware that such signing is happening.
Witness Requirements For a Maine Will
To finalize a will in Maine the will must be witnessed and signed by two witnesses. The witnesses must see the testator sign the will or acknowledge the will.
As of July 2, 2019, the witnesses do not have to sign the will at the same time that the testator signs or acknowledges the will, but must sign it within a “reasonable time” after the testator signs. 18-C M.R.S. §2-502.
An individual generally competent to be a witness may act as a witness to a Maine will. The signing of the will by an interested witness (someone who benefits under the will) does not invalidate the will or any portion of the will). 18-C M.R.S. § 2-504.
Does a Maine Will Have To Be Notarized To Be Valid?
No, there is no requirement that a will in Maine needs to be notarized in order to be valid. However, Maine law permits a will to be self-proved, which makes probating the will easier because the witnesses to the will do not have to attest to the will’s validity after the testator’s death. In order to make a will self-proved, the will must be acknowledged by the testator and affidavits of the witnesses in front of a notary or other officer authorized to administer oaths.
A Maine will can be made self-proving at the time of or after execution. Maine law provides form language that can be used to make a will self-proving, which should be substantially followed. See 18-C M.R.S. § 2-503.
Working with a Maine probate attorney is the best way to make sure you create a valid will that carries out your testamentary wishes.