In order to make a valid will under Maryland law, the will must be:
- In writing;
- Signed by the testator, or by some other person for the testator, in the testator’s presence and by the testator’s express direction; and
- Attested and signed by two or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator.
The rule setting forth the requirements for a valid will under Maryland law is MD Est & Trusts Code § 4-102.
Who Can Make a Valid Will In Maryland?
A person can make a valid will in Maryland if they are:
- 18 years of age or older;
- Legally competent to make a will.
To be legally competent to make a valid will under Maryland law, a testator must, at the time the will is executed:
- Have a full understanding of the nature of the business in which he was engaged;
- Have a recollection of the property of which he intended to dispose and the person to whom he meant to give it; and
- Have an understanding of the relative claims of the different persons who were or should have been the objects of his bounty.
Basically, a testator must know what they are doing by signing the will, what they are devising, and who would receive their property if they did not have a will.
What Are the Requirements For Signing a Will In Maryland?
To be valid, a Maryland will must be signed by the testator OR by some other person for the testator, in the testator’s presence and by the testator’s express direction.
It is generally a better idea for the testator to sign the will himself, rather than by surrogate. If a surrogate signs the will instead of the testator, often questions as to the testator’s capacity are raised, even when the reason for having a surrogate sign the will had nothing to do with the testator’s mental capacity.
What Are the Witness Requirements For a Valid Will In Maryland?
Two or more credible witnesses must sign the will in the testator’s presence in order for a will to be valid under Maryland law. In Maryland, “presence” means that the testator needs to be able to watch the witness sign the will.
Does a Will Have To Be Notarized To Be Valid Under Maryland Law?
No, a will does not have to be notarized in order to be valid under Maryland law.
A will can be made self-proving under Maryland law, which allows the court to accept the will without the testimony of the witnesses to the execution of the will. A self-proving will contains an attestation clause, and the attestation is effective when the testator and witnesses sign the will.
The best way to make sure that you have created a valid will under Maryland law is to have your will prepared by a Maryland probate lawyer.