A Last Will and Testament in the Time of COVID
It bears repeating that the majority of Americans do not have a Last Will & Testament. Studies have shown it is primarily because people generally do not like thinking about death and preparing a Will is like preparing for death. But COVID-19 has run rampant through our country in the last year and, suddenly, the unpleasant thoughts about preparing a Will are overshadowed by the need to protect and organize your estate and how it will be distributed when you die.
Since the pandemic began, I have been asked many times if it is okay to use a form Will from the Internet rather than paying an attorney to prepare one for you. Let me unequivocally say that only an experienced attorney should prepare your Will. This is not something that should be trifled with on an Internet site as you cannot correct a mistake from the grave. In addition, Maryland law requires certain conditions be met for a Will to be valid – the Will must be signed by the testator and witnessed and signed by two people who were present at the same time (ideally two people who are not related to you and would not benefit from the Will). A notary is not required, but everyone is required to watch each other sign the Will.
Although social distancing restrictions do make it more challenging these days for you to be in the same physical space as people with whom you do not live, and being under quarantine for one reason or another would make it nearly impossible to execute your Will, you simply cannot afford to wait any longer to write and execute a Will if you have not already done so.