What Makes A Will Legally Valid In Massachusetts?
Do you have a will? You should. Every adult in Massachusetts can benefit from not only drafting a will, but from setting up a comprehensive (personalized) estate plan. This raises an important question: What do you need to do to make a will legally valid? Here, our Boston estate planning attorney provides an overview of the Massachusetts requirements for a will.
Massachusetts Law: The Requirements for a Valid Will
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has its own set of requirements for a valid will. Understanding these guidelines is crucial to ensure the legality and enforceability of your last testament. Under Massachusetts law (MGL c.190B, §§ 2-501), a will must meet the following:
- Testator’s Age and Capacity: The testator (the person making the will) must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. This implies the testator has the mental capacity to understand the nature of the will, the assets it disposes of, and the implications of the actions therein.
- Writing Requirement: Massachusetts law stipulates that a will must be written. Oral or “nuncupative” wills, and holographic (handwritten without witnesses) wills, are generally not recognized.
- Signature: The testator must sign the will at the end of the document. If the testator is physically unable to sign, another person may do so in their presence and under their direction.
- Witnesses: Two competent individuals must witness the signing of the will. They must also sign the document, attesting they observed the testator’s signature.
- Voluntary Act: The will must be made without coercion or undue influence. If the testator is forced or tricked into making the will, it could be declared invalid by the court.
A Valid Will is the Bear Minimum—Crafting an Estate Plan that Works
While a will is an essential document, it’s only the starting point when designing a comprehensive estate plan. Here are several elements you might consider to ensure a well-rounded estate plan:
- Trusts: A living trust can help avoid the costly and time-consuming probate process. Assets placed in a trust can be distributed to heirs without court intervention.
- Healthcare Proxy: This document allows you to designate someone to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so.
- Durable Power of Attorney: This grants a trusted individual the authority to handle your financial and legal matters should you become incapacitated.
- Living Will: This specifies your desires for end-of-life medical care, should you become unable to communicate your decisions.
- Guardianship Designations: If you have minor children, it’s crucial to establish who would take care of them if both parents pass away.
- Life Insurance: A life insurance policy can provide financial security to your loved ones upon your death, helping cover final expenses and providing income replacement.
Contact Our Boston Estate Planning Attorney Today for a Confidential Case Evaluation
At Fisher Law LLC, our Boston estate planning lawyers have experience helping clients with wills, trusts, and the full range of other estate planning matters. Contact us today for a completely confidential initial consultation. We provide estate planning representation throughout the Boston area, including in Suffolk County, Norfolk County, Middlesex County, and Plymouth County.