A recent court case shows that attitudes about technology and legal documents are shifting. Not every jurisdiction will share the same interpretation of the law, and in fact, this particular court case did not happen within the United States it serves as an important reminder of how technological updates can affect estate planning. Before individuals start text messaging their wills, though, they should consider the benefits of formal estate planning in California.
The international case involved a man’s unsent text message. In the message, he gave his wishes that the wife be left out of the will, indicated where stored money was kept and revealed his wishes for spreading his ashes. Even though the text was never sent, the court ruled that the text served as the man’s last will and testament.
Does a text suffice? Why jeopardize the financial future of one’s heirs with confusion? Some people tend to avoid estate planning because it is seen as too emotional or cumbersome, but if people can change how they think about it, the process can be more approachable. Some recommend to view the process as a family succession plan instead, and to think of it in terms of how one wishes for the family to proceed after one’s death.
Wills can be easily created with minor inconvenience and remain clearly within California state law. When estate planning is so easily accessible, many choose to take the traditional route so that they can protect their heirs and the assets they have accumulated over time. Many people choose the traditional route with the assistance of an attorney who is up-to-date on all the regulations of creating a will in their state.
Source: waltonsun.com, “Technology is changing estate planning,” Margaret R. McDowell, Nov. 8, 2017