Massachusetts law has specific requirements for what makes a will legal in the state. These requirements include who must sign a will in order to make it valid. Although a notary may sign a will as a witness in Massachusetts, a will that is notarized but not witnessed is not valid, according to the Massachusetts Probate Code.
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According to the Massachusetts Probate Code, in order to make a legal will, you must be at least 18 years old and "of sound mind." In other words, you must be a legal adult and be able to understand what your will does.
A will is legal in Massachusetts only if it is signed by the testator, the person who makes the will and to whom the will belongs. The will the testator signs must be in writing. Massachusetts law allows oral wills to be made only by military servicemembers who are on active duty, according to the Massachusetts Probate Code.
A valid Massachusetts will must also be signed by at least two witnesses. If the will is not signed by two legal witnesses, the probate court may reject the will as invalid. To legally witness a Massachusetts will, the witnesses must be at least 18 years old and have the mental capacity to understand what they are witnessing. A person who is competent when he witnesses a will but later becomes incompetent does not make the will invalid, according to the Massachusetts Probate Code.
The Massachusetts Probate Code does not make any provisions for a notarization to take the place of two witnesses to the will. A notary may sign the will as a witness, but does not have to notarize the will when she does so. Unlike most states, Massachusetts does not recognize a will signed by witnesses and notarized as a "self-proving" will, or a will that doesn't require the probate court to question the witnesses. A notarized will is not legal in Massachusetts unless it is also signed by the testator and two witnesses.
References & Resources
- MedLaw Plus: Massachusetts Last Will and Testament
- Massachusetts Legislature: Massachusetts Probate Code
- Massachusetts Probate Courts: Forms
- Massachusetts Legislature: Report on the Uniform Probate Code
- Massachusetts Probate and Guardianship Reform: Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code
- ABA Guide to Wills and Estates: Contents
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