Posted by Dana Law Group on May 18, 2022
Proper estate planning ensures that your wishes are fulfilled after your death and removes additional stress from your grieving loved ones. One of the most recent developments in estate planning is an electronic will. However, if you want to create an electronic will in Arizona, you’ll need to follow certain precautions to ensure it’s valid.
In Arizona, electronic wills have been allowed since 2019 and must be kept as part of the electronic records instead of requiring hard copies. The person writing their will, also known as the testator, must sign it digitally or can instruct someone else to create an electronic signature on their behalf. The law requires a copy of the testator’s government-issued ID to execute a will.
Arizona also requires the signatures of two witnesses for electronic wills. For example, witnesses might be lawyers or family members. Witnesses must be physically present during the signing of the will and add their signatures within a reasonable timeframe according to state law. This makes forging a digital will more difficult.
Since 2000, two federal laws have made electronic documents legally valid: the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) and E-SIGN. Both laws treat wills differently because the testator is deceased at the time of execution. Because of this, Arizona and other states have introduced legislation to allow electronic wills. Other states with electronic will statutes are Nevada, Indiana, Illinois, Florida, and Maryland.
Several other states adopted the Uniform Electronic Wills Act or EUWA. States such as Colorado, North Dakota, Washington, and Utah that recognize EUWA tend to have more standardized electronic will procedures than those with individual statutes, which is why Arizona’s laws pertaining to electronic will differs from Nevada’s or Florida’s for example. In the former, testators must provide an “authentic characteristic,” which is usually a biometric marker: voice or facial recognition, fingerprint, retinal scan, or recording. Florida is one of the few states that allows witnesses to be present remotely.
The states that follow EUWA recognize electronic wills that were created in other states, so an electronic will created in Arizona should be recognized in nearby Utah or Colorado. This doesn’t mean that electronic wills won’t be recognized in other states, but states that haven’t adopted EUWA might not allow all electronic wills or have a standardized process in place for executing those wills.
If you’re ready to get started with estate planning in Arizona, whether that includes a physical or electronic will, Dana Law Group are expert in the law.