The fax machine is almost as quaint a relic as the typewriter, and Grandma loves her iPad. Isn’t it time for an Illinois statute that expressly provides for electronic wills? That’s the question Darrell Dies posed recently in the ISBA Trusts & Estates Section newsletter.
He notes that since 2002 the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-SIGN) has “ensured the validity and legal effect of contracts entered into electronically.” In 2012, the Illinois Supreme Court promulgated statewide e-filing standards and encouraged circuit court clerks to implement them. Yet the probate process remains squarely in the world of “paper, lots of paper,” he writes.
Of course, just because no statute expressly authorizes digital wills doesn’t mean a court would refuse to recognize one. In fact, last year an Ohio judge recognized a will signed on a tablet with a stylus. But a statute is a far more efficient and comprehensive way to move the probate process into the digital age.
Thus far, only one state has an electronic will statute – Nevada, which, as Dies informs us, has no income or estate tax. And the statute also illustrates the many e-will obstacles that remain, including concerns about authentication, confidentiality, tampering, and fraud. Read his article for more, including a look at the Nevada statute.