eWill legislation is gaining national acceptance.

Our Mission– Make eWills legally valid nationwide.

Why? Because everyone should have the right to accessible, easy, affordable estate planning.

THE IMPACT 

What are eWills and why are they important? 

An eWill is simply an electronic version of a paper Will, which is a legal document that outlines a person’s wishes regarding the distribution of their assets after their death. These electronic Wills are stored in electronic form as opposed to a physical copy and signed electronically instead of a “wet ink” signature. 

Currently, only 12 states and D.C. permit eWills. That means that even though so many other important transactions and contracts can be fully completed electronically, the majority of Americans cannot complete their Estate Plans without doing it the way it’s been done for hundreds of years: with ink on paper. 

Estate planning is so important because it empowers people to put a plan in place to safeguard their future and create multigenerational wealth. The widespread acceptance of eWills in every state would greatly enhance accessibility, enabling every family to start building their legacy.

THE LEGISLATION 

Why are we passionate about making eWills a law? 

At Trust & Will, we are passionate about making eWills legally valid nationwide because we believe that everyone should have the right to accessible, easy, affordable estate planning. We view eWills as a powerful tool that can bridge the divide between the demand for estate planning and its accessibility to all individuals.  So how are we advocating for this change? We are: 

  • Working with lawmakers and policy makers to promote the adoption of the UEWA and UEEPDA 

  • Helping to educate the public about the benefits of eWills and other electronic estate planning documents

  • Establishing partnerships with companies like Proof so that our members can complete their estate plans entirely from the comfort of their own homes. 

Overall, nationwide availability of eWills could have a significant impact on the world. The option of electronic wills would allow estate planning to be accessible and affordable for everyone regardless of their income or location. It would also help reduce the risk of fraud and ensure that people’s wishes are accurately reflected in their Wills. And most importantly, it would remove a barrier that discourages people from taking an important step in leaving their legacy. 

THE NEWS

How We’re Advocating for eWill Legislation 

Our team is working tirelessly to push forward eWill legislation across the US. Check out our efforts in: 

  • New York - We visited Albany to educate legislators about the benefits of eWills and advocate for the passage of UEWA.

  • Virginia - We convened a broad-based coalition, including AARP VA, MetLife Legal Plans, and the Justice Tech Association.

  • Ohio -  Our CEO and founder Cody Barbo speaks on how allowing electronic execution of Wills in Ohio would be a win for democracy.

  • Minnesota - We were honored to work with State Senator Bonnie Westlin to complete the first ever eWill in Minnesota making it the 13th state to pass eWill legislation. 

  • Idaho - We’re supporting states to act as leaders in the eWill legislation space to encourage other states to follow suit. 

We are committed to our efforts and will continue speaking out across the country so that every American has equal opportunity to build their legacy.

THE TIMELINE

Understanding the History of eWill Legislation 

The history of eWill legislation dates back to 2000 when UETA was passed. The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act of 2000 ensures that digital signatures and electronic documents are legally equivalent to handwritten signatures and paper records, enabling legal transactions to be conducted online. This is what spearheaded the push for eWill legislation. See how things unfolded: 

  • 1999 - The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) was adopted by the Uniform Law Commission - since then 49 states have passed UETA (New York has separate electronic signature legislation)

  • 2000 - Congress passed ESIGNe-Sign, a federal law granting legal recognition to electronic signatures and records

  • 2017 - Nevada became the first state to legally allow eWills

  • 2018 - Arizona and Indiana followed in Nevada’s footsteps allowing eWills

  • 2019 - Florida passed eWills 

  • 2019 - The Uniform Law Commission adopted the Uniform Electronic Wills Act (UEWA), which legally allows wills to be created, signed, and stored electronically.

  • 2020 - Due to COVID-19, temporary allowances were made for remote notaries due to shelter-in-place requirements. This in turn accelerated the adoption ofRemote Online Notarization Act (RON), which made remote notarization permanent.

  • 2022 - The Uniform Law Commission adopted the Uniform Electronic Estate Planning Documents Act (UEEPDA), which legally allows non-testamentary estate planning documents (e.g. any estate planning document other than a Will) to be created, signed, and stored electronically

  • 2023 - Illinois becomes the first state to pass UEWA & UEEPDA

  • 2024 - Trust & Will is leading an eWill legislation campaign in New York and supporting efforts in several other states

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Commonly asked questions

What is the difference between online Wills and eWills?
There is a difference between a Will that is created online, versus a Will that is entirely digital. For instance, a Will can be created online using a service or platform, like Trust & Will. However, if it is then printed out and signed with wet ink signatures, then it is not considered an eWill. An eWill can be completed and legally-valid electronically from start to finish.
What is the Uniform Law Commission?
The Uniform Law Commision (ULC) is a non-partisan group composed of lawyers, judges, and law professors who create model laws. The ULC works to research and draft uniform laws on various legal issues. One such law is the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, adopted by the ULC in 1999, since implemented in 49 states. UETA enabled electronic commerce as we know it. As just one example, using your credit card to purchase something online would be far more difficult without UETA.
Uniform Electronic Wills Act vs. Uniform Electronic Estate Planning Documents Act
The Uniform Electronic Wills Act (UEWA) would allow eWills to be legally-valid and accepted in all states. It is essentially a set of rules that states can choose to follow or adopt and is currently passed in 12 different states and the District of Columbia. The Uniform Electronic Estate Planning Documents Act (UEEPDA) is similar to UEWA except it would allow all other estate planning documents (except a will) to be signed and notarized electronically.
What is Remote Online Notarization?
Remote Online Notarization (RON) is a necessary co-passenger to eWills. It’s difficult to have a Will that is truly digital from start to finish without the notarization component. It’s possible to have an eWill made up of electronic signatures from the creator of the Will and their two witnesses. However, without RON, an eWill may be valid without full feature parity of a physical Will (it might not be self-proving, for example).

Because of this, states that are pioneering eWill laws will typically pass RON and eWills together, or one right after the other. It is not likely for a state to allow eWills without allowing for remote online notarization as well.
Does Trust & Will support all eWill legislation?
Trust & Will is interested in seeing every state pass some version of UEWA or UEEPDA. But, more generally, we are committed to the cause of digital estate planning. We support any effort by a legislature to enable electronic estate planning.

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