Just a few days ago, the Maryland Court of Appeals answered the question of what is the proper execution and attestation of a last will and testament. In the case of Castruccio v. The Estate of Peter A. Castruccio, the opinion for which is posted here, the Court held that attestation (which means, essentially, to “bear witness, confirm or authenticate a legal document”) does not require that the witnesses sign the will on the same page as the testator or on physically connected pages. Therefore, an otherwise valid will is not invalid merely because the witnesses signed the will on a different page than the testator, and the pages were not physically connected at the time of signing.
The Court also held that it is not necessary for the testator (aka: the person who is making the Will) to initial each page of the will or even for the will to include a complete attestation clause. The absence of these elements in a will does not serve to invalidate it, nor prevent the presumption of due execution from attaching to it.
In Maryland, to have a valid last will and testament or codicil, the document must be in writing and must be signed by the individual making the will or codicil. The will or codicil must be witnessed by at least two credible witnesses who must sign the document in the presence of the maker of the document. There are procedures which allow for execution of a will or codicil where an individual is unable to sign. The person executing the will or codicil must be at least eighteen years old and legally competent. The document should be dated. There must be conformity with all the requirements under Maryland law and it is advisable to have a will or codicil prepared by an attorney.
Contact Us About Estate & Probate Law in Maryland
If you have questions about the validity of a will, codicil or other estate-related documents—or if you have questions about the Maryland probate process— please contact attorney Kate McDonough at 301-563-6685.
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