If you live in the state of Arizona — great news! Arizona has updated their statutes that allow e-wills to be a legally valid form of estate planning. Trust & Will explains what makes e-wills valid, and guides users through the steps of how to create an electronic will in Arizona.
Does Arizona allow electronic wills?
The state of Arizona now allows the creation of electronic wills and recognizes them as legally valid. In 2018, Arizona became the third-ever state in the country to allow for electronic wills. The first two states were Nevada and Indiana.
The state legislature overhauled Arizona probate codes to make this possible. The revised statutes can be viewed in Arizona Probate Code: Title 14, Chapter 2, Article 5 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, which is the section that specifically addresses wills and requirements.
Trust & Will now offers probate help. Learn more about our different plan option, today.
State statutes regarding the allowance of electronic wills are currently in the making. There are only a handful of states that currently recognize the validity of electronic wills, and requirements vary from state to state. Some states have adopted a model law on e-wills called the Uniform Electronic wills Act (EUWA), which was created by the Uniform Law Commission. This is a framework that is provided in an effort to help unify e-will rules and requirements across states. Although a few states have adopted EUWA, several others developed their own sets of statutes and requirements.
For instance, some states require that witnesses must be physically present when the testator electronically signs their will, and they must also provide their electronic signatures shortly after. Other states allow for remote or virtual witnessing, which allows witnesses to watch the testator sign their will using video and remote meeting technology.
Some legislators argue that the requirement of the physical presence of witnesses or using a physical Notary service defeats the purpose of making the electronic will creation process seamless and truly digital from end-to-end.
History is currently in the making, and it will be fascinating to watch the electronic will story unfold in this country. More states are beginning to adopt e-will statutes and will likely continue making adjustments and refinements.
Let’s take a look at Arizona’s unique set of requirements for making an electronic will valid.
What makes an electronic will in Arizona valid?
Section 14-2518 of the Arizona Probate Code lays out the requirements that make an electronic will valid. These following requirements must all be met:
An electronic will must be created and maintained in an electronic record (digital)
Must have the testator’s electronic signature. The signature can be made by an individual other than the testator, so long as it was made in the testator’s conscious presence and by their direction.
Must contain the electronic signatures of at least two witnesses. They must have been physically present with the testator when they e-signed the will, acknowledged the testator's signature or acknowledged the will, and electronically signed the will within a reasonable amount of time after they witnessed the testator sign the will.
Electronic signatures of the testator and witnesses must be dated on the date that the signatures were made
testator must include a copy of their government-issued identification card that is valid at the time of the execution of the will
How can I create my electronic will in Arizona?
The easiest way to create your Arizona e-will is to use an online service provider, such as Trust & Will. In August 2020, Trust & Will offered the nation’s first-ever electronic will, meaning it was created digitally from end-to-end. This was made possible by partnering with Notarize, an e-Notary service.
Here are several steps of action to take to prepare your e-will:
Decide what assets and property you want to include in your will
Decide on your beneficiaries (your loved ones who will inherit your property)
Choose your Executor, which is the person who will handle your estate when you pass away
If you have any dependent children or pets, select your desired Guardian
Use an online will creation provider to create your will using the decisions you’ve made in steps 1 through 4
Digitally sign your will using an electronic signature in the presence of your two witnesses
Ask your two witnesses to electronically sign your will in acknowledgement of the creation of your will
Ensure all signatories have dated their electronic signatures
Have your will electronically Notarized using an e-Notary service. This is usually an optional but preferable step that will make your will self-proving
Store your e-will securely by using a digital vault.
You may print out a copy of your e-will for your personal reference.
Create your electronic will today!
Thanks to technology and legal statutes, creating an electronic will in Arizona is now possible. Arizona lawmakers updated the probate code to begin allowing and recognizing electronic wills as legally valid in 2018. This was the third-ever state to do so in U.S. history, and more states have followed suit since.
The technology to create a will electronically has existed for a long time. So what makes an electronic will valid in the eyes of a law? What are the hurdles?
Although e-will technology exists, lawmakers need to recognize the use of electronic signatures in order for it to be used. Further, they can make things even easier by allowing the use of remote witnessing and remote notarization. Some states that recognize e-wills may allow the use of electronic signatures, but they may require the witnesses to be physically present at the timing of signing (although electronic.)
Arizona is an example state that requires witnesses to be in the physical presence of the testator when they digitally sign their will, and then add on their own digital signatures. This point highlights how important it is to understand the specific requirements to make an electronic will, when allowed, valid in your particular state.
Although e-will requirements and statutes vary from state to state, the Uniform Law Commission has put forth a model law on e-wills that states can adapt. It remains to be seen whether all U.S. states will begin to legalize the use of electronic wills, and whether the laws will become more uniform across states.
You may be a lucky person who lives in one of the several states that have legalized electronic wills thus far. If you aren't, your state of residency may not be far behind! When you’re legally able to create an e-will, know that the technology is ready and waiting for you. Trust & Will provides an electronic will service so that you can create your will digitally from end-to-end seamlessly. We partnered up with Notarize to allow for digital Notarization as well.
This means that you truly won’t ever have to leave the comfort of your own home to start, complete, and validate your will! That’s the way it should be. If you live in a state that allows for the use of e-wills, get started today!
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Trust & Will is an online service providing legal forms and information. We are not a law firm and we do not provide legal advice.