Wills in Maine

By Beverly Bird

Maine’s statutes regarding wills are on par with other states. You must be of sound mind and at least 18 years old to make a will in the state, and your signature requires two witnesses. Maine allows your witnesses to also be beneficiaries. Self-proved wills are accepted and eligible for simplified probate proceedings after your death. To self-prove your will, you and your witnesses must sign a second sworn statement indicating that it is authentic, and attach the statement to the will.

Exceptions

If you are unable to sign your will, a third person in addition to your witnesses can sign it for you, as long as you verbally indicate that you are asking them to do so. Holographic, or handwritten, wills do not require witnesses in Maine if both your signature and the body of the will are in your handwriting. Nuncupative, or oral, wills are not legal in Maine.

Revocation

You can revoke your will by destroying it or have someone else do it in your presence. You can also revoke it by making a new will that specifically annuls the old one, either entirely or specific portions. Maine’s statutes will also declare portions of your will void if you are divorced after you make it. Section 2-507 of Title 18A of Maine’s Revised Statutes automatically revoke any part of it pertaining to your spouse, whether a bequest or appointment as executor, when you receive your final divorce decree, unless you state in your will that you don't want this to occur. A formal or legal separation does not have the same effect.

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Provisions for Spouses

You cannot disinherit your spouse in Maine. If you were married at the time you made your will, she is entitled to one-third of your augmented or total estate, including the value of non-probate assets such as life insurance policies with named beneficiaries and real estate owned with another individual with rights of survivorship. If you omit her from your will or leave her less than one-third of the value of your assets, she can file a claim with your estate up to nine months after your death or six months after your will enters probate, whichever comes later. If you married after you made your will, she is entitled to whatever she would have received if you had died without one, which could be your entire estate if you have no children and your parents are deceased. Maine grants registered domestic partners the same rights as spouses.

Provisions for Children

If you neglect to include one of your children in your will, the court will award him a share of your estate equal to what he would have received if you had died without a will. Exceptions are if you intentionally disinherit him and state this in your will, or if you leave the bulk of your estate to his other parent. If you have established a trust for the child to provide for him, it supersedes this provision, as well.

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References

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Massachusetts Wills & Inheritance

Inheritance laws in Massachusetts depend on whether or not you leave a will. If you do, you decide who gets your property after your death, subject to certain laws. If you do not, the state decides who gets your property. The probate court is much more involved in settling your estate if you leave no will.

North Carolina's Inheritance Law

When a person dies with a valid will in North Carolina, his property will pass to the beneficiaries he named in his will. A valid will is one in which the maker is at least 18 years old and mentally competent, and the will was properly signed in the presence of witnesses. Without a valid will, a person's estate passes to his surviving relatives in accordance with North Carolina's intestate succession laws.

Wills in New Jersey

New Jersey is more flexible than some states in its laws covering wills and estates. Anyone at least 18 years of age and of sound mind can make a will. While this is the norm among most jurisdictions, New Jersey has also passed progressive legislation to make it easy for your next of kin to locate your will after you pass away and to limit spouses’ shares to an estate under some circumstances. New Jersey recognizes domestic partnerships and the laws that apply to spouses also pertain to domestic partners.

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