What Does it Mean to Execute a Will in Maryland?

If you’re considering executing a will, it’s important to know exactly what that means. What does the process entail? When does it become official? Our lawyers can answer all of your questions so that you feel comfortable and confident when executing your will in Maryland.

If you execute a will, you create an official document that will guide probate proceedings after your death. Wills must be executed according to Maryland’s rules for wills, meaning they must be typed and signed by both the testator and two competent witnesses. After your will has been executed, file it with the Register of Wills Office. You should not delay executing a will because you are under the impression that, once written, a will cannot be changed. In reality, you can make alterations to your will by executing a codicil in Maryland.

For help with your case from the Maryland wills and estate planning lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras, call us now at (410) 694-7291.

What Does Executing a Will Mean in Maryland?

Executing a will means that you are finalizing an official document that lays out your desires for your assets and their distribution after your death. It is an important process that testators and our Maryland wills and estate planning lawyers must carefully carry out.

If you execute a will, that means that you’ve written your will and taken the proper steps to ensure it is valid. Once your will is officially executed, it can be used to inform probate proceedings following your death. If a will is not properly executed, it will not be honored by the probate court.

Executing a will means taking the time to carefully consider all of your assets and your desired beneficiaries of those assets. Our Baltimore will and trust attorneys will review various assets, such as real estate, bank accounts, stocks, and more, and help you determine how you would like your assets to be dispersed among your beneficiaries. We will also help you name beneficiaries and the executor of your will. This person will be the one tasked with overseeing the probate process and distribution of your assets. You should not execute a will without considering all the questions this process asks of testators.

While executing a will means you engaging in a legal process to protect your assets and property after your death, it can also mean you get peace of mind knowing such matters are handled.

What is Required to Execute a Will in Maryland?

You cannot execute a will without meeting certain requirements. Maryland provides clear guidance to testators regarding the criteria that must be met in order for a will to be properly executed and viewed as valid.

First of all, the testator must sign their will and be of sound mind when doing so. Additionally, the will must be signed by two witnesses in the presence of the testator. Witnesses must be legally competent and above the age of 18. Wills do not have to be notarized in Maryland.

Maryland only recognizes holographic wills – those written by hand instead of typed – if they comply with all other aspects of Maryland’s laws regarding the proper way to execute a will. However, holographic wills can only be used in cases of members of the armed forces outside the country, and these wills only remain valid for up to one year from the time the testator is discharged from the armed forces.

If you do not carefully follow all rules associated with executing a will, the document you see as your last will and testament will not be viewed as such by a probate judge.

What to Do After You Execute a Will in Maryland

After you have executed your will, you should register it. This ensures that a valid copy of your will is kept in a safe location and is easily accessible to your executor after your death.

Many people think that the best place to keep a will is in a safe in their homes. In reality, that’s not necessarily true. If your will is kept in a hidden location unknown to anyone else, it might not be found after your death. This can make the probate process much more challenging for your intended beneficiaries, especially if they are not entitled to your assets per Maryland’s intestacy laws.

Because of this, testators should register their wills with the Register of Wills Office in their area. That way, a copy of your last will and testament will be kept safe. You can retrieve a copy of your will from the Register of Wills Office at any time for review. Or, you can keep a copy at home or with your personal representative if you would like. But you should also register it.

Can You Change a Will After You Execute it in Maryland?

Once a will is executed, it is not set in stone. By executing a codicil, you can make amendments to your current last will and testament in Maryland.

A codicil is a special document that allows testators to make changes to their wills. Annotating a will is not sufficient. If you do this, a probate judge may not honor your desired changes.

Codicils must be executed in the same manner as wills. So, they need to be signed by the testator and two competent witnesses. Codicils should also be filed with the Register of Wills Office once completed.

You might choose to execute a codicil at any time. Major life events, such as marriages, deaths, births, and divorces, might cause you to want to make a change to your will. In fact, testators should review their wills periodically to ensure they remain aligned with their previous wishes. If you wish to make changes to your will, but do not officially do so before your death, any unofficial changes may not be entertained by the probate court.

Discuss Your Will with Our Maryland Lawyers

To set up a free case review with our Rockville, MD wills and estate planning lawyers, call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291.