I just got back from ABA Techshow, which is one of the larger conferences on law and technology in North America. Spending three days immersed in technology designed for lawyers got me thinking again about the technology we use for wills. Specifically, a pen and paper.
In other countries, in limited circumstances, wills drafted on tablets and smartphones have been found valid. However, in Ontario, a will is still only valid if it is printed or written out, signed, and, if not entirely in your own handwriting, witnessed by two people who were there when you signed and are not named in the will (or married to someone named in the will). It can get complicated, which is why signing errors are one of the biggest problems with homemade wills.
Technology has advanced considerably in the past 50 years, and our estates laws have not really kept pace. Someday we may be able to have digital wills with electronic signatures; in the meantime, we’re stuck with the old-fashioned ways.