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Massachusetts Wills Laws

A will is a legally binding document or oral statement (allowed in limited circumstances) that outlines an individual's after-death plans for his or her property and affairs. For example, a person's will might declare that his prized car collection should be split equally among his three siblings and that he would like his ashes deposited in the Atlantic Ocean. Massachusetts wills laws are similar to wills laws in other states, and the commonwealth has enacted the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code.

The main provisions of Massachusetts' wills laws are listed in the table below. See FindLaw's Wills section and the links at the end of this article for additional articles and resources.

Code Section

Massachusetts’ wills laws are governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapters 190B and 191.

Age of Testator

A person who makes a will is known as a testator. The testator must be eighteen years or older and have the proper mental capacity.

Testator’s Signature

Generally, the will must be in writing and signed by the testator or by another person in the testator’s conscious presence and at his or her direction

Number of Witnesses

Two or more competent individuals must witness the testator sign the will or witness the testator’s acknowledgment of the signature or will. If an interested witness (someone who will benefit from the will) signs the will, the will is still valid so long as the following applies:

  • There are two other non-interested witnesses who sigh the will; or
  • The interested witness proves the portion of the will containing the gift was not inserted and the testator did not sign the will as a result of fraud or undue influence.
Nuncupative (Oral Wills) Soldiers in actual service or mariner at sea may make nuncupative will of personal property.

Revoking a Will

A testator may a revoke all or part of a will by doing the following:
  • Executing a later will that expressly revokes the earlier will or is inconsistent with the earlier will; or
  • Destroying the earlier will.

To avoid disputes and costly court battles over your will, you may consider seeking professional advice before drafting any documents. An experienced Massachusetts estate planning attorney can fully explain Massachusetts’ wills laws and offer legal advice specific to your situation.  

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