Are electronic wills legal?

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2021 | Estate Planning

As we continue to undergo the digital revolution, more and more of our activities are transferred to the online environment. One activity that is still trying to break through in a legal sense is electronic wills. Many Florida residents find it more convenient to be able to create, sign and even store their will in digital format at any point in time that they choose.

Are electronic wills legal?

Estate planning lawyers will tell you that it all depends on the state that you’re in. One of the biggest issues that is holding back the legality of electronic wills is the fact of signing it. Traditionally, a will is constructed in a lawyer’s office, and the signer is physically present when they sign the will to enact its legality. This helps to ensure that the signer was in the proper mental capacity to sign the will and wasn’t underneath any sort of undue influence or duress.

How does the signing process work?

To help states come up with a legal process for integrating electronic wills into their legal structure, the Uniform Electronic Wills Act was passed. Only a handful of states have adopted this type of legislation. When it comes to the signing of the will, this act requires that a copy of the will is sent to an online notary. The signer has a video chat with the online notary where they answer questions about the will. Once a will is signed in the notary’s presence, they will put their notarial seal on it and return the document to the signer.

While consumers are constantly demanding more electronic documents than ever before, electronic wills are not quite there yet. Many probate lawyers expect to see an upsurge in contesting wills that were signed electronically based on the concepts of lack of mental capacity or being underneath undue duress. As of right now, it’s best to stick with a traditional will until more legislation is passed regarding e-wills.