How Can Wills be Made in the Future?

Can you make your will with Alexa or Siri?

Artificial intelligence may take over our lives. Voice activated search may eliminate smart phones and keyboards. Voice activated technology has already intruded our privacy and homes.
The answer is ‘No’ to electronically signing wills when it comes to Ontario law.

A few cases have accepted electronic wills in other jurisdictions. A court validated wills signed on a tablet in a hospital since there was no paper or writing instruments. The witnesses had to sign a will on a tablet to comply with the will writing requirements.

Don’t Try This at Home

You do not want your electronic will to make your family the next test case, wasting time and money in court. Yikes. Not having a will is the worst financial blunder you can make. I wrote a report on that topic that you’ll find at in 2020.

You can expect some jurisdictions will march into this brave new world of electronic wills. Some form of electronic documents have, for years, been accepted as valid. But not wills.

Why are wills an exception to the rule? Why can’t witnesses watch legal documents being signed through a video app?

The answer is that the law is slow to change. It protects the vulnerable and the status quo (and some will say lawyers’ pocketbooks).

Only time will tell if the lack of writing and informal witnessing requirements will create opportunities for more fraud, undue influence and legal challenges.

In the United States, the Uniform Electronic Wills Act allows wills to be prepared, signed and validated electronically. The E-Wills Act requires witnesses to be present and may relax requirements. Witnesses can be present only by video and audio with remote witnessing requirements.

Clients Have Emotional Needs for Advice

Lawyers will, no doubt, want to maintain centuries-old traditions and formalities to avoid abuse even though our future world may be electronic.

Can will technology entirely replace lawyers? Technology may help with a checklist to remind lawyers of useful questions such as: Has anyone stored their genetic material?

Most people want to ask questions on conflicting tax and family laws, plus personal matters. Lawyers must recognize and understand client’s emotional requirements when they prepare estate documents. Lawyers need to develop skills to help clients make better decisions about their choice of executors. When should a trust company be your best executor choice?

Clients want to know the best way to benefit their beneficiaries. That is a role for lawyers. Making things easier for client is important.

Remember This for 2020

The goal is not to make a will. Your goal is to make a will to protect your loved ones.

Merry Christmas!