Recent changes are coming for wills. Many states have begun to pass legislation that will result in the introduction of electronic wills, which combine the formality of traditional wills in a digital format. Written using an electronic device, these devices are then electronically signed and validated by the creator.
It is important to understand that electronic wills do not abandon the formalities of traditional wills including signatures and witnesses, but instead attempt to update these elements to the digital era.
The Roots of Electronic Wills
In concept, online wills have been around for several decades. Sites like Rocket Lawyer and Legal Zoom have offered do it yourself estate planning devices for some time. These documents, however, come with risks. While they might seem easy to create and simple at first glance, these estate planning documents present several challenges including that they must still be notarized and witnessed.
If a person does not use an electronic will, there is also a risk that the document might not end up capable of achieving that person’s wishes.
The Catalyst for these Changes
The catalyst behind the introduction of electronic wills is the Uniform Law Commission, which is a nonprofit organization that proposes laws for states to consider adopting. The organization recently drafted the Uniform Electronic Wills Act. Some states like Nevada and Indiana have already adopted these regulations. Other states have begun to adopt similar regulations.
The Basis of the Uniform Law Commission’s Bill
The electronic will is designed to push states to allow the validity of wills that have been electronically signed and stored in the cloud. In response, many companies are beginning to take steps to help individuals create electronic wills. Some of these companies will connect users with notaries through video chat so the document can be electronically reviewed without the need for physical interaction.
Creating estate planning documents through video, however, still involves many risks. For example, there is a risk that while a person on video signing a will might look okay, there could be someone outside of the frame who is exerting undue influence on this person and convincing them to make an estate plan against their wishes.
Remember that you will not be around to see if your estate plan does not proceed according to your wishes and it will be your loved ones who suffer. If a person is at risk of undue influence, it is also a wise idea to be conscious about the risk of creating a will through video. Instead, an attorney can better comprehend what you are signing and provide you with an idea about the risks that might be associated with a certain estate plan.
Speak with a Knowledgeable Estate Planning Lawyer
As the role of computers and electronic devices in our lives increases, we can only expect that estate planning will see many additional changes.
If you have questions or concerns about the estate planning process, do not hesitate to speak with a knowledgeable attorney. Contact Ettinger Estate Planning today.