Before the arrival of the digital age, the legal field depended on caseloads of documents, tons of ink, and one-on-one client meetings. However, with cyberspace empowering everyone to conduct business online, it’s no surprise that people soon will move a lot of their legal needs to digitally mediated spaces.
Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced online transactions’ prominence. It is not unusual to hear clients request a virtual conference, online payment, or ask if you accept e-signatures.
With most people staying at home today, lawyers now incorporate hard copies of files with digitally stored data. Remarkably, this method also includes online drafting of legal statements such as an individual’s last will and testament.
What is an Online Will?
A last will and testament is a document that enables you to list down how you want your property and money divided among your beneficiaries. Beneficiaries are most commonly immediate family members, extended relatives, or non-profit organizations, though a will can dictate just about anyone as a beneficiary.
Lawyers normally handwrite or type and then print this formally binding statement in the presence of several witnesses.
However, the Uniform Law Commission recently signed the Uniform Electronic Wills Act that allows a person writing a will to devise, sign, authenticate, and enforce a legal will without the need to be in front of a witness or another person.
The law permits a testator to produce an electronic composition of their request, with the witnessing and certification fulfilled through virtual communications.
Is an Online Will Legal?
Yes, an online will is valid as long as you see to it that you follow state and federal rules. For instance, companies like Willed employ legal experts and professional lawyers to phrase estate planning statements precisely to make sure each document is legally irrevocable.
It is important to realize, however, is that not all online will facilitators are the same. Hence, you should never forget to read the fine print of the company you are eyeing to guarantee that they are state compliant, and research the requirements needed to ensure your will is valid.
3 Reasons to Create an Online Will
In case you’re still on the fence, here are three reasons why you should create an online will:
With many people having quick and easy access to the internet, plenty of companies now offer online legal services, including finalizing a last will and testament. Aside from the official document, most services will also retain recordings of virtual conferences, audit trails of actual dates, and complete other required paperwork.
Storing these supplemental pieces of evidence can be valuable in establishing the validity and authenticity of your last will and testament in the case that someone attempts to challenge it after your death.
In opting for an online will, people under long-term care will no longer have to worry about traveling to meet a lawyer or notary. They can likewise avoid asking these professionals for an appointment to visit them. With the will digitally accessible, those who cannot travel can quickly start the process from their homes.
When drafting an online will, you can conveniently write it on your own time, regardless of your personal schedule and commitments. Also, gathering the requirements in your spare time is no problem. Unlike creating a traditional last will, where you will have to follow your lawyer’s regular schedule, you can craft your will at a pace that suits you.
All in all, remember to prepare the following details when creating your online will: list of your dependents or beneficiaries, appointed executor, list of assets, guardian, and power of attorney.
Note that the information companies may ask from you may differ—however, regardless of the required documentation, all of these online services should be able to give you instructions on the steps you need to follow.
Once you completed your online will, see to it you keep your copy in a secure place. Many people secure their last will and testament, house deeds, jewellery pieces, and insurance contracts inside a fireproof safe. You can likewise provide a duplicate copy to your beneficiaries and assigned executor for safeguarding.
In case you don’t have a safe in your home, a good alternative is an individual safety deposit box at a financial institution or a local bank. Typically, a bank or a credit union stores a safety deposit box in a vault. Only you, your power of attorney, or your beneficiary can obtain access to this metal container.
And lastly, when selecting an online will service, make sure to explore fees, company background, available online resources, serviceability in various states, software compatibility with multiple devices, and convenience of use. After all, a service’s efficiency significantly differs between online companies and products, so see to it to choose the one that meets your needs.