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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Is an Electronic Will Valid?

With tablets all the rage, an interesting legal issue has arisen. Is a will created on a tablet computer valid? An Ohio judge recently answered that question in the affirmative, but most states have not addressed the issue. As electronic devices become more commonplace, this question will inevitably arise more frequently.

The Ohio case came as a result of a man in the hospital wanting to draft a will. With no paper available, he used a tablet. He signed using the stylus, and his brothers signed as witnesses. After his death, his family printed out the will and submitted it to probate. The judge admitted the will to probate, finding that it met the requirements of Ohio law, which are that a will be in writing, signed by the testator, and witnessed. If the will had not been approved, his estate would have passed to his parents under state law, not to the people and organizations designated under the will.

Although the judge approved the will, he noted that the legislature needs to update the law to address electronic wills. Currently, Nevada is the only state that specifically provides guidelines for creating a valid electronic will. While electronic wills are convenient, they raise concerns about authentication and forgery. In some states, electronic wills aren't allowed. For example, Arizona and North Carolina accept only wills that are executed using paper.


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