One of the things that generally needs to happen for a Massachusetts will to be valid is for the will to meet the state's witness requirement. To meet the state’s witness requirement, the signing of the will or an acknowledgment of the will/signature must be witnessed by two or more people. These witnesses must then add their signatures to the will.
When a person who is forming a will is deciding who to have as the witnesses, one thing he or she will want to keep in mind is that some special witness-related rules are present when it comes to one particular class of individuals: interested parties. An interested party is a person that would receive a benefit under the terms of a will.
Now, a person can have an interested party be a witness to their will here in Massachusetts; as state law does allow this. However, when an interested party is a witness to a will, one of the following two things needs to occur for provisions of the will that grant a gift to the interested party or that party's spouse to be deemed valid:
- The interested party shows that undue influence or fraud was not responsible for the insertion of the provisions and the will being signed.
- At least two non-interested individuals witness the will in addition to the interested party.
For many individuals here in Massachusetts, wills are a cornerstone of their overall estate plan, as wills can contain all sorts of different terms regarding what will happen upon a person's death. Given the important role these documents can play in ensuring a person's after life plans are followed through, it is very important for individuals to have a full understanding of just what could potentially impact the validity of the will, such as the state's rules regarding the witness requirement. For those interested in creating a will, estate planning and elder law attorneys can go over the different validity requirements for wills here in Massachusetts.