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LEGAL DICTIONARY

E-Will

What Is an E-Will?

An e-will (short for electronic will) is an estate planning tool that is created and signed digitally. Like a traditional will, the document names beneficiaries and guardians and shares your other wishes for your estate, including your final arrangements.

Although e-wills help make the process of writing a will easier and less expensive, they are not yet considered valid in every state.

An E-Will Vs. a Traditional Will

A traditional will is made in writing, signed and dated by the creator of the will (the testator), and signed by witnesses (or a notary public) who observed the testator’s signing.

In order for an electronic will to be valid, state laws must adopt digital and online versions of these traditional requirements. The shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic led some courts to allow e-wills on a temporary basis. Some states continue to permit them.

Currently, digital wills are valid in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, and Nevada. Colorado, North Dakota, Utah, and Washington recently adopted the Uniform Electronic Wills Act of 2019, a model law that allows probate courts to give electronic wills full legal effect.

Some other state courts accept e-wills on a case-by-case basis.

What Are the Advantages of an E-Will?

A last will and testament is an important part of estate planning. It allows you to pass on your assets to the people you choose, and it establishes a healthcare directive, so you have the final say in the event you become incapacitated due to an injury or illness.

Yet, statistics reveal that only about a third of Americans have a will. Experts believe that most Americans think creating a will is time-consuming and expensive. An e-will is neither of those things.

Here are some of the advantages of an e-will:

  • You can create and sign the document digitally without having to print it out.
  • The witnesses can remotely observe you signing the document through video conferencing.
  • The signing can be notarized electronically as well.
  • You have access to the original document at all times and can make revisions when needed.
  • No travel is necessary; you can complete the entire process from your home.

What Are the Disadvantages of an E-Will?

Some critics of electronic wills claim that fraudulent activity and lack of clarity are concerns with the format. For example, can you revoke a will simply by deleting it from your computer? When witnesses are not there in the room when you sign the document electronically, is there a chance you are under undue influence?

In guardianship cases, states that allow e-wills have strict requirements, including the use of e-will storage facilities. But another concern is what happens if there is a problem with a storage facility.

To guard against these issues, laws surrounding e-wills continue to evolve. As this process happens, many legal experts expect the format to be accepted by more states in the near future.

How to Create an E-Will

If the disbursement of your estate and your healthcare wishes are relatively straightforward, you can use an online template to create your will. Using a template is considered just as legal as an attorney drawing up the documents for you.

However, you may need legal help if you have one or more of the following situations:

  • You have a large estate and need estate planning guidance.
  • You wish to disinherit a spouse.
  • You want to disinherit a child.
  • You have concerns that someone may contest your will or claim that you were not of sound mind when you signed it.

Start your Last Will and Testament now

Helpful Resources:

ACTEC Foundation - Electronic Will Legislation in the US

What Is an “Electronic Will”? - Harvard Law Review

American Bar - Electronic Wills: State Legislation

Uniform Law Commission - Home

What Is an E-Will?

An e-will (short for electronic will) is an estate planning tool that is created and signed digitally. Like a traditional will, the document names beneficiaries and guardians and shares your other wishes for your estate, including your final arrangements.

Although e-wills help make the process of writing a will easier and less expensive, they are not yet considered valid in every state.

An E-Will Vs. a Traditional Will

A traditional will is made in writing, signed and dated by the creator of the will (the testator), and signed by witnesses (or a notary public) who observed the testator’s signing.

In order for an electronic will to be valid, state laws must adopt digital and online versions of these traditional requirements. The shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic led some courts to allow e-wills on a temporary basis. Some states continue to permit them.

Currently, digital wills are valid in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, and Nevada. Colorado, North Dakota, Utah, and Washington recently adopted the Uniform Electronic Wills Act of 2019, a model law that allows probate courts to give electronic wills full legal effect.

Some other state courts accept e-wills on a case-by-case basis.

What Are the Advantages of an E-Will?

A last will and testament is an important part of estate planning. It allows you to pass on your assets to the people you choose, and it establishes a healthcare directive, so you have the final say in the event you become incapacitated due to an injury or illness.

Yet, statistics reveal that only about a third of Americans have a will. Experts believe that most Americans think creating a will is time-consuming and expensive. An e-will is neither of those things.

Here are some of the advantages of an e-will:

  • You can create and sign the document digitally without having to print it out.
  • The witnesses can remotely observe you signing the document through video conferencing.
  • The signing can be notarized electronically as well.
  • You have access to the original document at all times and can make revisions when needed.
  • No travel is necessary; you can complete the entire process from your home.

What Are the Disadvantages of an E-Will?

Some critics of electronic wills claim that fraudulent activity and lack of clarity are concerns with the format. For example, can you revoke a will simply by deleting it from your computer? When witnesses are not there in the room when you sign the document electronically, is there a chance you are under undue influence?

In guardianship cases, states that allow e-wills have strict requirements, including the use of e-will storage facilities. But another concern is what happens if there is a problem with a storage facility.

To guard against these issues, laws surrounding e-wills continue to evolve. As this process happens, many legal experts expect the format to be accepted by more states in the near future.

How to Create an E-Will

If the disbursement of your estate and your healthcare wishes are relatively straightforward, you can use an online template to create your will. Using a template is considered just as legal as an attorney drawing up the documents for you.

However, you may need legal help if you have one or more of the following situations:

  • You have a large estate and need estate planning guidance.
  • You wish to disinherit a spouse.
  • You want to disinherit a child.
  • You have concerns that someone may contest your will or claim that you were not of sound mind when you signed it.

Start your Last Will and Testament now

Helpful Resources:

ACTEC Foundation - Electronic Will Legislation in the US

What Is an “Electronic Will”? - Harvard Law Review

American Bar - Electronic Wills: State Legislation

Uniform Law Commission - Home