Posted by Elliot Kravitz, ATP

Three Types of Electronic Wills

Three Types of Electronic Wills

Over the years, vital documents were created and stored in hard copies. This, without a doubt, came with its unique pros and cons. In time, with an increase in technological development, there are many documents that we now create, execute, sign, and store in digital form, including wills. Many state legislatures, however, are not sure whether to enact laws to support the use of electronic wills. This article will discuss the meaning and types of electronic wills 

What is an Electronic Will?

Like the name, an electronic will is a will that is created and signed digitally. It differs from the traditional form of wills in that it is a digital document. For an electronic will to be valid, the following condition must be met.

  • Created, executed and stored as a digital document 
  • Signed electronically by the testator or anyone eligible to sign
  • Digitally signed by at least two people that will act as the witness
  • The will must contain the date that the testator and witnesses signed the will
  • There must be a government-issued ID that is uploaded and stored with the will

It is important to note that the purpose of the will does not change only the format, method of signing, and the storage process that differs. Hence, both paper will and electronic will does the same function. 

How is an Electronic Will Signed?

When signing a traditional will, the testator and the witness must be present in the same location when it is time to sign. Should there be a self-proving affidavit, there might be a notary public there.

For an electronic will, however, the signing parties might be in different locations. There must, however, be a video conference such that the signing parties should see each other as they sign. This is important for the will to be valid. 

The Three Major Types of Electronic Wills

For electronic wills, three primary documents are accepted. These are valid documents that are allowed under the right legislation. Typically, electronic will can be classified either as online electronic wills, offline electronic wills, and qualified custodian electronic wills.

We will explain each of these below:

Offline Electronic Wills

For offline electronic will types, the will of the testator will be written digitally on an electronic device. The testator might use a stylus or other digital pen to write the document on an electronic device. It might also be typed depending on the one that is comfortable for the testator. 

The testator uses a word processing program on their PC or tablet to create the will. The document will neither be posted online nor printed. Instead, the testator will save it on their hard drive or store it in/with any appropriate quarters. This is the offline electronic will.

Online Electronic Wills

Offline electronic wills are created and stored offline. Online electronic will stands out in that it uses a third party service. The final will of the testator is created on an online platform that cannot store the electronic will.

For instance, someone might be undergoing cancer recovery therapy. If he discovers that he is not getting any better, he might be concerned about how his property will be managed should he kick the bucket.

If it dawns on them that they do not have a valid will, they could use WhatsApp messenger or Facebook Chat App to contact a trusted friend. He could clearly outline how he wants his assets administered should he pass away. We can classify this as an online electronic will. 

Qualified Custodian Electronic Wills

Finally, we have the qualified custodian electronic will. This involves using a third party to write a will. A custodian electronic will gives the testator the ability to control the creation, execution, and signing of a valid will.

This is usually executed electronically with the service of online providers. The parties involved will fill some standard forms as part of the process. After this, they will also complete the authentication process online. There are times witness, and other parties will be linked using a video conference call. This will is stored electronically on the third party server. This is the qualified custodian electronic will.

Elliot Kravitz, ATP
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