A Will, is a legal document created by an individual to distribute property and provide instruction about how they would like their final wishes to be carried out after their death. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, if a person dies without a Will, state law determine how and to whom the person’s assets will be distributed.
This process is referred to as intestacy law, and the court’s distribution of a person’s estate cannot be disputed by the beneficiaries. This is why having a Will is one of the most important legal documents a person can create.
To be considered a valid legal document, there are a set of requirements set forth by the state that need to be satisfied. The document must be signed by the person creating the Will and signed by two witnesses. The witnesses must be present during the execution of the document by the creator as well as bear witness to the signing of the document by all parties. The Witnesses must be over the age of eighteen (18).
The state of Massachusetts allows any person of eighteen (18) years of age and of sound mind to create an executable Will. Sound mind means that the person creating the Will has the capacity to understand that they are drafting a document that will determine how their property is distributed after their death. In the event the Will creator, known as the testator, cannot sign for themselves, another party can be directed to do so. The witnesses should not be individuals who are designated beneficiaries as outlined in the Will. In other words, if the Testator is leaving a person property, that person should not be a witness. The reasoning for this is to avoid the appearance of undue influence by a designated beneficiary.
An attorney is not required for one to create a valid Will. That being said, there are many additional technical requirements necessary to ensure that your final wishes are properly carried out. Advisement from an attorney can help you navigate through complex legal matters and address your particular legal needs. In addition, it is dangerous to use Wills you find online because they may not properly meet all of the requirements in Massachusetts. If you are interested in drafting a simple will, please contact Berid & Schutzbank for more information.