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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