Despite the process being similar in every state, there are key differences to know when making a will online. Every state has its own laws for a will to be valid. It is important that you follow the legal requirements of your particular state, otherwise the court might not accept your will. To make an online will in Massachusetts, you want to follow the specific statutes—you will also want to use an online will format customized for Massachusetts.
Can I Make a Will Online in Massachusetts?
Anyone 18 years of age or older, who is of sound mind, can make a will in Massachusetts—and anyone who can make a will can make a will online. To do so, use an online will making service. Our lawyer reviewed multiple online wills to find the best online will making service. USLegalWills delivered the highest quality online wills.
The other legal requirements for a will to be valid in Massachusetts are:
- It must be in writing.
- It must be signed by the Testator (the person writing the will).
- It must be signed by at least 2 individuals, each of whom either witnessed the Testator sign the will or heard the Testator acknowledge their signature or acknowledge the will.
- It must have testamentary intent (which means, simply, that the Testator has the intention of making this be their last will and testament).
The state of Massachusetts does not currently accept digital-only wills (also known as electronic wills). You will want to print out a will you make online. Your witnesses should also be “disinterested parties” to the will (that is, they should not be beneficiaries in the will). If one of your witnesses is also a beneficiary in the will, it does not invalidate the will. However, any portion of the estate gifted to them might be voided. To avoid legal complications, it is always best to choose two “disinterested parties” to act as witnesses.
Does Massachusetts Require a Notarized Will?
No, a will is not required to be notarized in Massachusetts. However, Massachusetts allows wills to be “self-proved,” which requires notarization.
It is actually not the will itself that is notarized; instead, there is a separate document known as a “self-proving affidavit” that is notarized and attached to the will. To make a will “self-proved” in Massachusetts, the Testator and both witnesses each make a sworn statement in front of a notary public. The form must substantially follow the form found in Massachusetts state law (which you can find here). After signing it in front of a notary public, you attach these affidavits, with the official’s seal, to your will.
By doing so, the will becomes “self-proved.” Whenever a will is presented to the probate court, it must be validated. With a “self-proved” will, the process to validate the will is usually much quicker as the court can accept the will as valid without having to call upon the witnesses to testify.
Can I Name an Executor in Massachusetts?
The executor of an estate is the person chosen to settle the estate, making sure the will is followed. You can name the executor of your estate in an online will in Massachusetts, and it is a good idea to choose someone (otherwise, the probate court will have to appoint someone to serve as the executor, delaying the probate process). You want to pick someone you know and trust, someone who is willing to handle settling your estate, and someone who meets the requirements of the state.
Here are the requirements and conditions for an executor in Massachusetts:
- The person must be at least 18 years of age.
- The person must be of sound mind (not having been judged incapacitated by the court.
While many states do not allow those who have been convicted of a felony to serve as an executor, Massachusetts does not have any state statutes prohibiting it. The court can reject a potential executor if their appointment is found to be “contrary to the best interest of the estate.”
To name an executor who lives out-of-state, there are no special requirements.
Do I Need an Attorney to Make a Will in Massachusetts?
No, you do not need an attorney to make a will. Though if you have a very large or complex estate, it is always wise to consult an estate planning attorney. Online will making is a good option when the estate is simple and the will is straightforward. When making an online will in Massachusetts, you want to be sure to follow all the state-specific requirements for a valid will. Use an online will making service that has templates customized for the state.
What Types of Wills Are Valid in Massachusetts?
Any will that meets the state requirements for Massachusetts is valid, and the overall requirements for the state are that the will must be: in writing, signed by the Testator, with two witnesses.
Can I Make a Holographic Will in Massachusetts?
A holographic will is a handwritten last will and testament—it is written by the Testator and signed with no witnesses. Unless the will was made and executed in a jurisdiction that recognizes holographic wills, Massachusetts does not recognize holographic wills. Any holographic will made within Massachusetts is not considered legally binding.
Can I Make a Nuncupative or Video Will in Massachusetts?
Nuncupative wills are oral wills, only spoken aloud and not reduced to writing, and sometimes people wish to leave them on video. In any state, a nuncupative will is considered an emergency or last resort type of will. If the individual is facing imminent death and has not drafted a written will, a nuncupative will is better than leaving no instructions at all. If time and health allow, a written and legally binding will is much better for avoiding legal delays when settling the estate.
Massachusetts allows nuncupative wills in only a few circumstances, which are:
- They are only valid for a soldier on active duty, or
- For a mariner at sea.
Only in those circumstances can someone use a nuncupative will to make their wishes known.
How Is a Living Will Different from an Online Will in Massachusetts?
An advance health care directive, also known as a living will, is a legal document that contains instructions on medical decisions and end-of-life care. A living will and a last will and testament are not equivalent; they are two separate documents. Typically, a last will and testament is not consulted until after the funeral, which is usually arranged immediately after death. For medical directives and end-of-life care to be effective, they need to be left in a living will. A living will also has different requirements for it to be valid than a last will and testament. You can make both a living will and a last will and testament online—you can find more information about living wills in Massachusetts here.
In Massachusetts, the requirements for a valid living will are:
- It must be signed in the presence of two adult witnesses.
- It must be signed by the witnesses to show that they believe you are at least 18 years old, of sound mind, and not under any undue influence.
- The person you appoint as your agent cannot serve as a witness.
Why Do I Need to Make a Will Online in Massachusetts?
If someone dies without a will, the intestacy laws of the state decide what happens to all their property. The state also will appoint guardians for minors and the executor of the estate. This can often be a long probate process. The estate will be divided between surviving family members according to the intestacy distribution laws of Massachusetts. Property can be held in probate for months or years at a time.
If you want to distribute your property in any certain way, you can only do that by making a will. If you have any minor children, it is important to make a will in order to appoint a guardian—someone you know and trust to love and care for your children should anything happen to you. If you want to leave any gifts to friends, you must make a will. You can do all of that in an online will in Massachusetts.
What Can I Include in an Online Will in Massachusetts?
Besides naming an executor for the estate as well as guardians for any minor children, the following can be included when making a will online in Massachusetts:
- Name a trusted person to oversee any property left to minor children.
- Name a trusted person to care for remaining pets.
- Leave gifts or property to family members, friends, charities, or organizations.
- Leave family heirlooms and sentimental items to specific people.
- Leave personal or sentimental items to specific people.
What Should Not Be Included in a Will in Massachusetts?
Usually, when someone dies, the funeral arrangements are made immediately. It is not until after the funeral that a will is generally consulted. If funeral directions are left in the will, family members might not know about your wishes until after the funeral. Medical directives and end-of-life care instructions are only effective if you make a living will.
You can talk to a family member about what you wish for your funeral arrangements, or you can make a separate document describing your wishes. This is an informal document that does not need to be signed or witnessed; it is only something for your family to refer to when planning your funeral. You should give this document to the executor of your estate or any other trusted person.
Can I Change or Revoke an Online Will Made in Massachusetts?
Whether made online or not, any valid will is a legally binding document. However, you can change or revoke your will at any time.
In Massachusetts, here are ways to change or revoke a will:
- It may be revoked if you physically destroy the will with the intent and purpose of revoking it.
- It may be revoked if you order someone else to physically destroy it in front of you and with the intent of revoking it.
- It may be revoked if you write a new will that explicitly revokes the old one or implicitly revokes it with contradictory terms to the old one.
It is a good idea to revisit your will after any major life change—such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, adoption, or acquisition of significant assets which change the distribution of property, or relocation to another state or country. If you only need to make minor changes, you can add a codicil to your will. A codicil is an amendment of the changes to the will, and it must be finalized in the same way that the original will is finalized.
How Do I Finalize an Online Will in Massachusetts?
To finalize an online will in Massachusetts, take these steps:
- Print it out,
- Sign or acknowledge the will in front two witnesses,
- Have the two witnesses sign it.
To make a will “self-proving” in Massachusetts, make a “self-proving affidavit” with you and your two witnesses in front of a notary public. Attach these to your will.
We recommend USLegalWills to make a will online in Massachusetts. Comprehensive service at affordable prices, with an option for secure storage and unlimited free updates to your last will and testament. See their pricing and more details here.