Every year, there is a bigger push to move away from paper documents and use electronic documents. While there is something to be said for keeping certain things on paper, such as wills, for example, people’s need for convenience seems to be outweighing all the negatives that can come with the use of E-docs. When it comes to estate planning in particular, there is a want for electronic wills. They are not, however, available in Pennsylvania — yet — and for good reason.
What is an electronic will? It is not just a digital copy of a will. It is a document that is created, signed and notarized online. The most significant advantage of creating an E-will is that it is something a person can do at home. No in-person meetings are needed.
What are the disadvantages? Many legal experts agree that the use of E-wills will land more probate cases in court. Why? They may be used to take advantage of people when they are most vulnerable. Claims of undue influence, lack of mental capacity or coercion are bound to be made.
Is there a place for electronic wills? They may be beneficial for individuals who have few assets and just want to have something that states their wishes for their estates. For those with a decent amount of assets, children or who want to disinherit specific individuals, E-wills are not considered the best option. There is something to be said for creating estate planning documents in person when complex issues need addressing.
Currently, only two states allow electronic wills, and two other states are considering them. Pennsylvania is not among them. That doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future, though. For now, those who wish to create wills can do so with the assistance of counsel. If electronic wills are ever introduced in the state and questions regarding validity arise, legal counsel will be able to help address those concerns.