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Are electronic wills the estate planning tool of the future?

Today, it seems like everything that was once on paper has moved to the internet.  Estate planning is no different, with electronic wills rapidly becoming a topic of interest in the estate planning realm.  An electronic will is one that is signed on the computer and stored electronically.  Rather than printing a hard copy and having it signed by the testator, witnesses, and notary, the electronic will is prepared entirely on the computer.  While electronic wills appear to be the way of the future, Florida estate planning attorneys caution that it may be some time before the state adopts this new form of will.  

Legalizing Electronic Wills

Currently, only the state of Nevada has authorized the use of electronic wills.  Other states may soon follow suit as the Uniform Law Commission has formed a committee to draft a uniform law concerning the creation, validity, and recognition of electronic wills.  In addition to electronic wills, the committee will explore moving other end of life planning documents, like advance directives, to the electronic realm.  

Despite an overall movement towards adoption of electronic wills, Florida recently shot down an electronic will provision.  The Florida senate unanimously passed an Electronic Wills Act, but Governor Rick Scott decided to veto the bill. Scott stated that the Act did not provide adequate protectors for testators, particularly with the online notarization process.  Although Scott’s veto of the Electronic Wills Act represented a setback for those pushing for widespread adoption of online wills, it is likely a revised act will go back to the Senate in the near future.  

Potential Benefits of Electronic Wills

Electronic wills could provide a great benefit to Americans everywhere.  Our society as a whole has traditionally put off estate planning, often until it is too late.  Given our predilection towards electronics, providing people with the option of creating and executing a will online could lead to more people making an estate plan.  Having an estate plan is essential for all of us as it can protect you and your loved ones from much heartache and confusion in the event of an untimely death.