Ohio Judge Rules Electronic Will Written on Tablet Is Valid
As technology marches on at a rapid pace, the law is sometimes slow to catch on.
A little more than one-third (thirty-four percent) of Americans own a tablet computer, according to a recent study done by the Pew Research Center. That number is only expected to increase in future years.
One tablet owner, Javier Castro, decided to write his will on his tablet. According to an article in The Chronicle-Telegram, Javier wrote his will after learning from the Mercy Regional Medical Center that he needed a blood transfusion to survive his illness. A Jehovah’s Witness, Javier refused to have the procedure.
Javier Castro’s brothers, Albie and Miguel, testified that he told them how he wanted to divide his estate and that Miguel wrote down his wishes on the tablet using a stylus. They stated that he signed the will after being transferred to the Cleveland Clinic.
Following his death in January, the family printed the will and turned it into the probate court.
Lorain County Probate Judge James Walther ruled that the will was legal. In his decision, the judge noted that Ohio law lacks any provisions dealing with electronic wills.
He also stated that this oversight should be remedied: “I can only think this is going to be utilized more and more, so it would be good to have some guidance.”
In order to be valid, a will must meet certain qualifications. The person creating the will must be eighteen years of age, be of sound mind, and not be unduly influenced by another person. The will must be signed.
Arizona law recognizes wills that are non-self proved, self-proved, and holographic (handwritten). Non-self proved wills are wills that have been signed by the estate owner and two witnesses. Self-proved wills are wills that have been confirmed by the estate owner and two witnesses in front of an officer “authorized to administer oaths under the laws of the state,” such as a notary public (Arizona Revised Statute 14-2504). For a holographic will to be valid in Arizona, the signature and the material provisions must be in the handwriting of the testator.
In the case of Javier Castro, his will would be considered a non-self proved will, as it was typed, not handwritten, and was not confirmed before a notary public. Please let us know if you have any questions about whether a will is valid or how to interpret the provisions of a will in Arizona.