Could Wills One Day Go Paperless?

Technology is changing every aspect of our lives, and the writing of a will seems to be following suit.

A recent article in the New Jersey Law Journal chronicles the evolution of will requirements in recent years, uncovering a steady shift toward the acceptance of digital writings and signatures. Traditionally, New Jersey required a will to be (a) in writing and signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses, or (b) in the testator’s own handwriting and signed by the testator. A 2005 amendment loosened the language to recognize “writings intended as wills,” or documents that might not have been fully executed but are accompanied by clear evidence that they were intended to be executed.

While New Jersey has not yet shown clear intentions of recognizing “digital wills,” legislation attempts in other states foreshadow the potential for this to eventually happen. Nevada authorized electronic wills in 2001 and is currently the only state to accept a will that is executed digitally. Arizona, Indiana, New Hampshire, Virginia and Florida have all introduced digital will legislation in the past year, but none of the bills were successfully passed.

Furthermore, the New Jersey Law Journal reports, “New Jersey legislators are working to enact legislation that will allow a personal representative, trustee or an agent under a power of attorney in New Jersey to access a person’s ‘digital assets’” – perhaps an early indicator that digital wills could one day become the norm here in the Garden State.

Read the full story in the New Jersey Law Journal here, and contact the law offices of Kelaher, Van Dyke & Moriarty at 732-505-5444 if you have any questions about estate planning, wills or any other area of elder law.