A Maryland Will That Meets Your Needs – Swiftly, Securely, and Easily
A Maryland will created through our easy-to-use service ensures the peace of mind you and your loved ones are looking for. With FindLaw, all of the heavy-lifting is already done for you – quickly and without high legal costs. Simply click “Get My Form” below. From there, our software guides you through an estate planning process that is swift, secure, and easy to understand.
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What Steps Should I Take To Make My Maryland Will Valid?
A valid Maryland will complies with all Maryland laws and regulations. You must perform the following steps to have a valid will in Maryland: See full process
Find the Right FindLaw Form for You
You can obtain your Maryland will form by clicking “Get Started” above. Before you begin the process, take a moment to assess what information you will need to compile to complete it.
Write a List of Your Assets
Take some time to consider your assets. Make a list of everything you own. Whether it’s personal property, real estate, a bank account, life insurance, or retirement savings, jot down the entirety of your property. Here are a few items worth noting:
- All real estate, including your home and any vacation property
- Checking and saving accounts
- Expensive personal property such as antiques or jewelry
- Items of significance such as family heirlooms
Note that not all assets can or should go through the probate process. These assets, such as life insurance and retirement savings, are considered non-probate property. They will be paid to beneficiaries that have been named in the documents related to those specific accounts. Non-probate assets include:
- Any life insurance policies
- Retirement plans, pension plans, and 401ks
- Trust properties
So, not only will you need to come up with a list of your assets, but you should also call out which assets already have beneficiaries and which assets should be included in your will as probate property.
You can also place some assets in a trust to further ensure they remain out of probate court. Still, remember that a will can cover anything that you forgot to put into a trust. Weigh out the pros and cons of your options to decide which specific assets belong in your will.
Know What Is Required in Maryland
A will can be made by any competent person 18 or older. To be a valid will, the state of Maryland requires that the document be:
- In writing
- Signed by you, the testator (or some other person signing on your behalf and under your direction)
- Attested and signed by two or more witnesses in your physical location
Note that Maryland requires you to be physically present when the witnesses perform their duties and sign the document. If you observe the witnesses online or via some other technological means (phone, video, e-mail, etc.), your will is invalid.
Choose Your Executor
After you pass away, you will need someone to oversee your wishes as stated in the will and carry them out accordingly. This is the job of the executor. Your executor needs to be someone you trust to follow your instructions when you’re not around.
On your will, make sure that you list the executor’s full legal name as well as the city, state, and county where they reside. When choosing your executor, it is recommended that you elect someone who lives in the same state as you. Maryland requires extra paperwork for out-of-state executors.
Finally, you never know what the future holds, so consider having a backup executor on deck if your chosen executor cannot fulfill their obligations.
Choose Your Beneficiaries
The Maryland will form requires you to list out who you wish to give your property to upon your passing. This can be anything from money to antiques to real property. The receivers of these possessions are called beneficiaries, and they can be family members, friends, minor children, a charity, or even your pet.
Your Maryland will form requires you to list all beneficiaries’ full names, addresses, and relations to you. Upon deciding your beneficiaries, let them know your intentions regarding your will and property, so everyone is on the same page.
Decide on Guardians (Optional)
Who depends on you and your livelihood? In this step, carefully consider your dependents. What is in the best interests of those who rely on you for care and financial support? Whether for minor children, pets, or an elderly parent, choose guardians that ensure the best care for your loved ones. Also, consider designated alternate guardians in the event your first choices are unable to fulfill their obligations.
Compile Your Debts
After you pass, your estate will automatically settle lingering debts such as medical costs or funeral expenses. However, your executor will also need to handle any additional debts you’ve incurred during your lifetime. It would be best to keep a list of all your debts and hold it in the same place where you hold the will. This will help your executor assess what needs to be paid and tend to your affairs. These debts include:
- Automobile loans
- Personal loans
- Credit debt
- Tax debt
- Unpaid fines or penalties
Review and Execute With Your Witnesses
Carefully read out the terms of your will and make sure that it indicates your actual and final wishes regarding your possessions.
Once you’ve reviewed the will, sign it in the physical presence of your two witnesses. If you cannot sign the will yourself, you can choose someone to complete this step for you. Once you’ve signed, the will also needs to be signed by the two witnesses. Remember that all parties must be 18 years of age or older. Finally, Maryland law states that beneficiaries listed in the will cannot serve as witnesses.
Make Copies and Keep Your Will in a Safe Place
Once your will has been validly executed, you should make copies of it. Make sure both your executor and your legal representation have copies. Next, ensure that your original legal document is stored in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box or locked fireproof cabinet. Make sure that your executor is aware of where the will is stored and has access to it in the event anything untimely should occur.
Maryland’s Register of Wills offers a service where they hold your will for safekeeping for a one-time fee of $5.
Note: you may want to talk to an attorney is any of the following are true:
- You want to ensure that your will reflects your wishes
- You have significant assets or complex finances
- You have children with special needs
- You have unique family circumstances
- You have a blended family
- You are concerned the will may be contested
You May Want To Speak With a Lawyer if You:
- Have a past divorce, blended family, or other complex family situation
- Have a high-value estate
- Own a business
- Want to create a special needs trust
- Want legal review of your completed will
Ready to get started on your Maryland will? It’s free to start.Create My Will
Maryland Will FAQs
The many intricacies and complexities of Maryland wills might require you to seek outside assistance. When you have questions, the wisest decision you can make is to seek out a Maryland estate attorney through FindLaw’s database.
FindLaw is not a law firm, and the forms are not a substitute for the advice or services of an attorney. Speaking with an attorney that has experience in your state can help to ensure your will is not only valid but is an accurate and complete representation of your intentions. Your attorney will also possess knowledge on other areas of estate planning, which can be useful when weighing the benefits of trusts, wills, and powers of attorney.
Out-of-state wills are held valid in the state of Maryland so long as they are:
- In writing
- Signed by the testator
- In conformity with the laws of Maryland, the state where the testator is domiciled, and the state where the testator was physically located at the time they signed the will
Wills that are handwritten are referred to as “holographic wills.” Holographic wills are not permitted in Maryland unless they have been drafted by members of the armed forces and meet specific requirements. A handwritten will by a testator serving in the armed forces is valid if signed by the testator:
- Outside the U.S.
- In the District of Columbia
- In a territory of the U.S., even if there are no witnesses present
Note that a holographic will is voided one year after the discharge of the testator from the armed forces. Exceptions exist for testators who passed away before the one-year cutoff and testators who no longer possess the testamentary capacity they had when they drafted the will. A service like FindLaw can ensure your will is professionally crafted and formatted.
Maryland testators can make changes to their wills through forms called “codicils.” To be valid, codicils must meet the same requirements that a will has to meet. That means a valid codicil must be:
- In writing
- Signed by the testator
- Attested and signed by two witnesses
A previously revoked will can be revived in some instances. When a testator makes a new will that revokes the previous one, the original will must be republished according to the same formalities required the first time out. Merely destroying the more recent will does not suffice.
Yes, you will. A power of attorney is where you appoint someone to make your financial decisions and handle critical affairs if you are temporarily incapacitated or unreachable. This authority is only effective while you’re still alive. It has no effect on the distribution of your property upon death.
When a probate court rules a will is invalid, it’s usually because it was not signed or adequately witnessed. Sometimes, wills can be contested if a party argues that they were forced or coerced into signing it. When these scenarios occur, a Maryland court may:
- Follow the intentions laid out in a previous will
- Invalidate the current will and pass the property through intestacy
This is why it’s vital that you carefully go through the steps of drafting your valid will, paying mind to your witnesses’ age and physical presence during the signing. FindLaw’s form creation software avoids any oversights, asking you the right questions to address your specific needs.
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