Estate planning is an important action for anyone — it can help you attain peace of mind knowing that a plan is in place to protect your loved ones should anything happen. Creating your Will gives you control in making sure important matters aren’t left up to chance.
The overall process of creating Wills is similar from state to state, but there can be slight variations when it comes to specific requirements. This is because the laws that govern estate plans and Wills are made at the state level, not federal. If you plan to make an online Will in Maryland, then you must take care to satisfy the requirements set forth by Maryland statutes in order for your Will to be valid. This guide will provide an overview of what you need to know about making a Will online in Maryland.
What You Need to Know About Making a Will Online in Maryland
In 1-2 paragraphs set up this section, which will essentially be an FAQ with clarifying details about creating an online will in the state of Maryland
The process of creating a valid Will in Maryland is determined by state statutes. The laws regarding the execution of a Will can be found in the Maryland Statutes, Article - Estates and Trusts §4–102.
An online Will is recognized by Maryland probate courts so long as the above-cited legal requirements are satisfied. Trust & Will breaks down these legal requirements over the next several sections by answering some frequently asked questions on the topic.
How Much Does a Will Cost in Maryland?
On average, you can expect to spend roughly $200 to $600 on a Will in Maryland. This cost varies widely depending on two factors: attorney fees and complexity of the estate.
For example, an individual with a particularly robust or complex estate plan with special provisions may hire one of the most experienced estate planning attorneys in the state. This person’s estate planning costs will likely be in the higher range. The cost may even rise to several thousand dollars if they want to establish a Trust.
However, most individuals have a relatively simple estate with straightforward objectives. Trust & Will’s online estate planning platform provides Maryland residents with an affordable alternative. You can create your state-specific online Will through our platform at a fraction of the cost.
Are Online Wills Legal in Maryland?
Yes, both online Wills and eWills are legal in Maryland.
In 2021, the Old Line State passed Senate Bill 36, which took effect on April 21, 2022. The legislation that was introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic now allows Maryland witnesses to execute and witness their Wills electronically if they so wish.
Prior to this expansion of the statutes, a Will could be created online but had to be printed on paper and signed with ink signatures in the physical presence. With the new bill, individuals who are immunocompromised or hospitalized can execute their Will without having to visit an attorney’s office in person. Today, this convenience can be enjoyed by any person located in Maryland.
What are the Requirements for an Online Will to Be Valid in Maryland?
In order for an online Will to be valid in Maryland, it must satisfy the following requirements for all Maryland Wills regardless of the method used:
The Will must be in writing.
The Testator (the person writing the Will) must be at least 18 years old and be of sound mind.
The Testator must sign the Will in front of at least two credible witnesses.
Your witnesses can be any generally competent adult. Choosing beneficiaries as your witnesses will not invalidate your Will. However, this is generally discouraged as it can create conflicts of interest.
After they see the Testator sign the Will, the witnesses must also sign the Will.
Your witnesses must also include an attestation clause to the Will. The Maryland Office of the Register of Wills provides a sample of the attestation clause language: “Signed, sealed, published and declared by the above named Testa (tor), (trix), (name), as and for (his/her) Last Will and Testament, in the presence of us, who at (his/her) request, in (his/her) presence, and in the presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses."
If you wish to create an electronic Will (eWill), then you must satisfy some additional requirements:
An electronic Will must be signed by two witnesses who are in either physical or electronic presence of one another, and all must be located in Maryland
Either the Testator or a supervising attorney must create a “certified paper original” of the Will that is created and signed electronically
The Testator must sign and acknowledge the original paper certification in the physical or electronic presence of a notary if they created it himself or herself
Do I Need a Lawyer to Make a Will in Maryland?
No, you do not need a lawyer to make a Will in Maryland. Generally speaking, Old Line State laws do not require you to hire a lawyer to create or execute a valid Will. However, you may want to consult an estate planning professional for advice if you have a large estate or special conditions that you wish to meet.
Otherwise, making your Will online is a reliable and convenient option. This is especially so when your wishes are straightforward and your estate is relatively simple. Trust & Will’s online estate planning platform will guide you through the process of creating and executing a Will that is compliant in your state.
If you wish to create an electronic Will (utilizing electronic signatures), then you can choose to work with your attorney to supervise the remote signing and witnessing and create a certified paper original with an acknowledgement and attestation. Alternatively, you can create your own in the presence of a notary public (electronic or physical.)
How Do I Sign an Online Will in Maryland?
Here are the steps to follow for signing and finalizing your Will in Maryland:
Finalize the contents of your Will
Sign your Will in front of two witnesses
Have your two witnesses attest sign the Will in your presence
Optional: have your Will notarized if you wish for it to be self-proving
Here are some special considerations to Maryland:
Maryland requires that an attestation clause is included in the Will.
If you get married and have a child that survives you (birth or adoption), then any Will executed prior to the marriage is automatically invalidated.
If you obtain a divorce or annulment, any specific provision related to your former spouse will automatically be revoked.
While Maryland now recognizes Wills that are signed and witnessed digitally, you or your attorney must still print out the Will on paper as your “certified paper original.” Note that you must utilize a notary if you do not have a supervising attorney.
While you may sign and execute your Will at a single point in time, the above considerations highlight special circumstances one may encounter at any time. Luckily, maintaining an online Will through a platform like Trust & Will can make revising and updating your existing Will a more seamless experience.
Does a Will Need to be Notarized in Maryland?
No, a Will does not need to be notarized in Maryland. However, it is an optional action step that you can take if you wish for your Will to be self-proving.
Now that Maryland has enabled the recognition of eWills, getting your Will notarized is even easier. For instance, Trust & Will has partnered with Notarize, a trusted online notary service to allow for the seamless notarization of eWills online.
During the notarization (online or physical), you and your witnesses will confirm your identities and make sworn statements. An affidavit is signed, notarized, and attached to the Will. This process proves that the notary knows who you are and confirms that each person was aware that they were signing the Will.
If the Will is already self-proved, then the probate court won’t have to call upon the witnesses to testify regarding the Will’s validity. This can help minimize potential issues and allow the probate process to proceed more quickly.
Who Can Witness a Will in Maryland?
Any competent adult can witness a Will in Maryland. However, a Testator should be careful not to select a Beneficiary (an interested party) as a witness. While Maryland statutes do not automatically invalidate a Will if a Beneficiary is a witness, this could be cause for conflicts of interest. It is generally advised to select a disinterested party to witness your Will to avoid any challenges.
How to Create Maryland Last Will and Testament Online
Maryland now recognizes both online Wills and electronic Wills, providing residents with more options to suit their needs. For those who wish to meet with their witnesses, attorneys, or notaries remotely, they can now do so. This provides a convenient and affordable alternative to estate planning the traditional way.
With this in mind, here is an overview of the steps of creating an online Will in Maryland:
Select a trusted online estate planning platform, service, or template.
Draft your Will
Review and finalize your Will
Sign the Will (electronic signatures are recognized)
Obtain attestations and signatures from two competent witnesses (remote or physical presence)
Optional: get your Will notarized if you want it to be self-proving (electronic/remote allowed)
If you are executing an electronic Will, make sure to print out a paper original that is certified by either your supervising attorney or notary public
Store your Will in a secure storage space online, such as a digital vault
Review and revise your Will regularly
What Can I Include in an Online Will in Maryland?
Here are some ideas on what can be included in your online Will:
An inventory of your property and assets
A list of your Beneficiaries
Gifts made to specific individuals or organizations
Your nominated Executor who should handle your estate
A Guardian for any minor or dependent children (or pets)
A named individual to manage property for dependent children
Last wishes regarding your remains, funeral, burial, cremation, etc.
Any final instructions or notes for loved ones
The contents of a Last Will and Testament vary widely based on an individual’s personal circumstances, as well as the objectives they wish to achieve. Must estate planning platforms such as Trust & Will will guide you through a series of questions and prompts to help create a Will customized to your unique needs.
Create Your Online Will in Maryland Today
As of April 2022, you can now create both online and electronic Wills in Maryland.
In the past, Maryland residents were permitted to create their Wills online, so long as they signed and witnessed the document physically. Just recently, the statutes were revised to allow technologies that would enable Testators to sign their Will digitally in the remote or physical presence of their witnesses, notary and attorney. If you do choose to create your Will electronically, be sure to obtain a certified original via an attorney or notary.
The key to successfully creating an online Will in Maryland is making sure that you satisfy Maryland-specific requirements. Creating your Will online, no matter your location, is a convenient and affordable alternative to working with an estate planning attorney. This guide provided an overview of the online Will requirements in the Old Line State that you should be aware of.
At Trust & Will, we’re here to help keep things simple. You can create a fully customizable, state-specific estate plan from the comfort of your own home in just 20 minutes. Take our free quiz to see where you should get started, or compare our different estate planning and settlement options today!
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