Attestation Clause in a Will in Maryland
Maryland has recognized that "a presumption of due execution attaches to a will that contains the testator's signature and an attestation clause signed by the witnesses." Slack v. Truitt, 368 Md. 2, 791 A.2d 129 (2002).
In Van Meter v. Van Meter, 183 Md. 614, 39 A.2d 752 (1944), the Court of Appeals said that an attestation was "the act of witnesses in seeing that those things exist and are done which the statute requires." 183 Md. at 619.
In McIntyre v. Saltysiak, 205 Md. 415, 421, 109 A.2d 70 (1954), the Court elaborated on the meaning of an attestation:
The attestation of the will is the act of the witnesses in seeing that those things exist and are done which the attestation clause declares were done and which the statute requires. After the witnesses so attest the will and subscribe their names, the statute is complied with. As the attestation clause, as such, preserves in permanent form a record of the facts attending the execution of the will and is prima facie evidence of the facts therein stated, the burden of proof is upon the caveators to show by clear and convincing evidence that the facts therein stated are not true.
An attestation clause is "a provision at the end of an instrument (especially a will) that is signed by the instrument's witnesses and that recites the formalities required by the jurisdiction in which the instrument might take effect (such as where the will might be probated)." Black's Law Dictionary 124 (7th ed. 1999). An attestation clause "is itself prima facie evidence of the facts therein recited." Woodstock College v. Hankey, 129 Md. 675, 680, 99 A. 962 (1917).
In Slack, the Court of Appeals addressed for the first time "the question of whether the presumption of due execution arises notwithstanding the absence of an attestation clause." 368 Md. at 10.