Is an Electronic Will Valid?

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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.

Javier Castro was in the hospital and wanted to draft a will. Because there was no paper handy, he used a Samsung Galaxy tablet computer and signed the will using the tablet's stylus. His brothers also signed as witnesses. After Mr. Castro’s 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, Mr. Castro's 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.

For more information about this case, click here.

Topics:  Electronic Devices, Estate Planning, Probate

Published In: Wills, Trusts, & Estate Planning Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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