Javier Castro was in the hospital and wanted to write 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 Javier’s death, his family printed out the will and submitted it to probate in Ohio.
A judge accepted the will, 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 hadn’t been approved, Javier’s estate would have passed to his parents under state law, and not to the people and organizations he designated in the will.)
Although the judge approved the will, he noted that the legislature needs to update the law to address electronic wills.
Electronic wills may be convenient, but they raise serious concerns about authentication and forgery. Currently, Nevada is the only state that specifically provides guidelines for creating a valid electronic will. Some states, such as Arizona and North Carolina, refuse to accept wills that aren’t on paper. Most states simply have no rules yet, so whether a computer will is okay is up in the air.
The best way to make sure your will is considered valid is to consult with your attorney, who can explain all the legal requirements, and also provide advice on avoiding taxes and unnecessary hassles and expenses.