Today, computer technology, digital documents, and the Internet allow you to do shop online, file your taxes electronically, and share every thought you have with friends at every moment. But while computers have become indelible parts of our day-to-day lives, the law is not exactly up to date when it comes to technology. This is especially true when it comes to making important legal documents, such as your will, in a digital format. Even though you can use software that will make a complete last will and testament entirely on your computer, these digital wills are not legally allowed in the state of Texas. Here’s what you need to know about a digital will in Texas.
Digital Will in Texas and Valid Wills
Anyone can write a document and call it his or her last will and testament, but that doesn’t mean a Texas probate court will accept the document later on. After you die, a Texas probate court will have to review your will to make sure it complies with all relevant Texas probate laws. If the court finds that your document meets the legal standards, it will accept the will as a valid document. If the document fails in any way, the court will reject it.
The problem with digital wills is that there is no Texas law that expressly states you can create an electronic file as a substitute for a written last will and testament. You have to create your will in writing. You also have to sign the document and have it signed by a pair of adult witnesses. Texas does not accept wills that are entirely electronic or digital in nature.
Digital Wills Outside of Texas
Texas is not the only state that does not yet accept digital wills as valid. Only the state of Nevada has a law that specifically addresses digital wills. One other state, Ohio, has at least one court case that indicates digital wills are acceptable as long as they meet the other states will requirements.
Theoretically, if you were to create a digital will in either of those states, a Texas court might rule that is a valid document because you created the will in a state that accepts digital will. However, this is very risky, and creating a will in a digital format is not something you should do as an alternative to creating a printed last will and testament.
Further, many estate planning clients create their own wills at home with the aid of software or templates they find online. While this is acceptable, you should always ask an estate planning attorney to review your documents before you rely on them. No software or self-help product will ever be a substitute for the trained and experienced eye of an estate planning attorney who can give you personalized advice.