Indiana is one of only a half-dozen states that allows people to create a will electronically. Specific legal provisions have made electronic wills, or e-wills, a viable and legal alternative to paper wills. Here are the steps you must take to execute or revoke an electronic will.
Executing an electronic will
If you choose to create your will electronically, you may risk your estate getting held up in probate court if you do not follow the steps to ensure that your e-will is valid. The general steps to execute a will electronically are as follows:
- The will document must be in text format.
- The testator (the individual making the will) must sign or direct someone to sign for them; the signer must be physically present with the testator.
- The testator must have two people witness their signature, and those two must also add their digital signatures to the e-will document.
- Neither of the witnesses may be the same person directed to sign for the testator.
This area of law is rapidly evolving, and each state may have additional legal requirements to execute an e-will legally.
Revoking an electronic will
The testator can revoke an electronic will, similar to a paper will. You can accomplish a revocation, generally speaking, by using the following methods. As with executing an e-will, each state’s probate code may have additional criteria for revocation. The testator can revoke an e-will by:
- Executing a new electronic or paper will containing language that explicitly revokes or supersedes all preexisting wills
- Permanently deleting or rendering all copies of the e-will unreadable and non-retrievable
- Contacting any custodian or attorney that holds the will or a copy and instructing them to destroy all copies of the e-will
Whether the testator, custodian or attorney revokes the e-will, the document must be destroyed by permanently deleting each digital copy and making the electronic document unreadable and non-retrievable.
Alternative revocation method
If for some reason, the testator cannot destroy copies of an e-will, they can execute a revocation document that will deem prior wills invalid. Requirements may vary by state, but generally, the revocation document must meet the following criteria:
- The testator and two witnesses must sign the revocation.
- The document must refer to the date the revoked e-will was signed.
- The revocation document must state that the testator is revoking the existing e-will.
When creating a paper will is difficult or not possible, creating an e-will can help you manage your estate and offer peace of mind.