A last will and testament sets out the wishes of its writer regarding the arrangement of his property after his death. Title 18-A of the Maine Revised Statutes contains the legal provisions relating to wills signed in the state. Any person who is at least 18 years of age may write a legally binding will. The writer of a will – known as the testator – must be of sound mind at the time of writing.
Execution of the Will
Maine wills must be in writing and signed by the testator. Two individuals must witness the testator signing the will, and must then sign it themselves as witnesses. A beneficiary of the will may act as a witness. A handwritten, or holographic, will is valid if written entirely in the handwriting of the testator and signed by him. Witnesses are not required for a holographic will.
The testator may revoke her will simply by writing a subsequent will. Alternatively, she can physically destroy her will by burning, tearing, canceling or obliterating it. Physical destruction will revoke a will if it is clear that it is the testator’s intention and purpose to revoke it.
If a testator signs a will and then subsequently divorces his spouse, the divorce automatically revokes any legacy in favor of his former spouse, unless the will provides otherwise. A decree of separation does not constitute a divorce. All other provisions of the will that are unrelated to the former spouse continue to be valid.
The testator should appoint a personal representative -- sometimes known as the executor -- in his will. The role of the personal representative is to take responsibility for carrying out the testator’s wishes and administer the disposal of the estate to beneficiaries. The personal representative may be a spouse or other relation. With large estates, it is common to appoint a business adviser to act as personal representative. Additional responsibilities of the personal representative include identifying and making an inventory of the assets, and paying all relevant charges and debts.
The Maine Revised Statutes contain a form of statutory will. This is essentially a form that can be completed by any individual by filling in his own personal information. The statutory will is a basic form of will that's suitable only for individuals in simple circumstances who plan to distribute their estate in a straightforward manner.