Are You a Legal Professional?

Maryland Wills Laws

Whenever we encounter wills in books, movies, or on TV, the circumstances always seem ominous. But exactly how do wills work? Put simply, a will is a person’s plan for what happens with his or her property after they die. Of course, none of us want to think about dying ourselves or losing a loved one, but it’s always better to have a plan in place when the inevitable happens. And the Old Line State has strict regulations on the way a will can be created, who can create one, and what it can cover. This is a brief summary of wills laws in Maryland.

Wills Laws

A person's will could dictate anything from how the family business should be run to who gets a prized automobile. Maryland’s will statutes are generally similar to will laws in other states in most respects, and do not recognize oral, or non-written, wills.

Wills Laws in Maryland

Wills statutes in Maryland are highlighted in the chart below.

Code Section

Estates & Trusts §§4-101, et seq.

Age of Testator

18 years or older and legally competent

Number of Witnesses

Must be attested and signed in presence of testator by two or more credible witnesses.

Nuncupative (Oral Wills)

Not valid

Holographic Wills

Valid if made outside U.S. by person serving in U.S. Armed Forces (no attesting witnesses necessary) but is void after one year after testator's discharge unless testator has died or does not then possess testamentary capacity.

Understanding Wills

The terminology used in Maryland estate planning laws can sound like inscrutable legalese, so the laws can seem confusing when first encountering them. So for clarification:

  • The “testator” is the person whose after-death wishes are specified in the will;
  • A “nuncupative” or oral will is one that is spoken or otherwise unwritten, and are not legally binding in Maryland; and
  • A “holographic” will is a handwritten testament, which is only valid if it is executed by a U.S. Armed Forces serviceperson outside the country and only remains valid for one year.

Maryland Wills Laws: Related Resources

Trying to determine what happens to a person’s possessions after he or she passes away is serious, and creating a will, especially one that accomplishes everything the person intended, can be a daunting task. If you would like legal assistance in creating or interpreting a will, you can contact a Maryland wills attorney. You can also visit FindLaw’s Wills section for more articles and resources on creating and changing a will.

Next Step Search and Browse
Contact a qualified attorney.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)