Apparently so, according to Ohio Probate Judge James Walther. Last year, Javier Castro needed a blood transfusion but chose to refuse the health care because of his religious beliefs. Unable to find a piece of paper and pen, Castro wrote and signed his will with a stylus on his Samsung Galaxy tablet while his brothers watched – and it’s valid. Judge Walther explained that Ohio law requires wills to be written, signed, and witnessed (much like in California) and technically, Javier’s electronic will met each of those requirements. Does this mean you should consider drafting up a will on your tablet right now and forego that visit to your estate planning attorney? Probably not.
The requirements for a valid will in California are quite similar to those in Ohio. In California, a will must be in writing, signed, and witnessed by two individuals in the presence of the testator.* However, unlike in Ohio now, there is limited case law regarding the validity of electronic wills. In fact, very few states have addressed the issue.**
You might be wondering: so many aspects of our lives nowadays are electronic – from bills to communication devices – so why shouldn’t my will be electronic as well? Why are there so many guidelines to creating a proper will? Having an appropriately designed and executed will ensures your wishes are carried out in the manner you intended them to and decreases the possibility of fraud. With little to no law to rely upon, until the California legislature develops a statute addressing what is required of an electronic will, it would be anybody’s guess whether your Samsung tablet will would be considered valid and probated in this state. Therefore, until that happens, it would be prudent to continue creating your will the traditional way – with your estate planning attorney.
If you are interested in creating an estate plan or have any questions regarding your current estate plan, please contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri for further information. The attorneys at Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri have decades of experience handling complex estate planning matters, including living wills and trusts, and we are happy to offer you a free consultation.
Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results. While this post may detail general legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.
*Cal. Prob. Code §§ 6110 – 6113.
**Nevada is one of the few states that have statutes concerning electronic wills (http://statutes.laws.com/nevada/title-12/chapter-133/execution/133-085).