Video Wills and Trusts?
Why can’t you just record your wishes that are otherwise expressed in your last will and testament?
Unfortunately, using a video recording to replace a last will and testament is not permitted by the law in any state. There are very strict rules to comply with the law for a Last Will and Testament to be valid and admissible to the Probate or surrogate court. Generally, the law perpetually plays catch-up with technology. Since the law lags behind advancements in technology, there is no way to prove that a will was valid and the requirements were satisfied by the person who created the will (referred to as the “testator”). This makes sense since the person who died cannot confirm it’s their will and it reflects their wishes. Other than the execution formalities, which include proper witnesses and a notary, the law requires that the testator have “testamentary capacity”. This means that the testator must understand the nature of the document, and the provisions in the document. I.e. that he or she is devising his or her personal property, real property and/or intellectual property to others. It may also prove useful in rebutting a challenge based on validity or undue influence. Undue influence is a cause of action when someone take advantages of a position of trust and confidence for their own self-serving interests. Unfortunately, this happens quite frequently in Florida where there exists a large elderly population.
My personal opinion is that courts will ultimately accept video wills in the distant future and it will be a great step forward. That being said, to maximize the value that video offers in the meantime, I think under certain circumstances it may be useful to record the execution ceremony and a brief interview with the testator on the same day of the ceremony. It will serve as evidence to rebut a will contest. It will also enable the testator to communicate his or her wishes and decision-making to beneficiaries in a personal way rather than in an impersonal cold legal document. The video interview will also serve as a means of preserving and communicating the testator’s legacy of values for his or her family for generations.
Haimo Law continues to offer value to its clients that you will not find elsewhere. We have partnered with a fantastic video production company, Think Visual Group (www.thinkvisualgroup.com), to provide competent and dependable legal representation that includes estate planning documents that incorporate a video of the execution of the documents and a video interview of the testator or testatrix.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose
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