Technology has revolutionized our society. Even in the last two years, we have seen more and more go digital. From school to work to doctor's appointments and even grocery shopping, many things are now done online from the comfort of our own homes. In an increasingly paperless world, clients sometimes ask us if we can do their estate planning digitally.
In the state of Georgia, the answer to this question is no, at least in part.
According to Georgia law, a Will must be a physical document written or typed on paper. This means that a PDF, a Word document, a scanned file, audio recording, video, or any other digital version of a Will is not valid and will not be recognized by the probate court.
For this reason, at Peach State Wills and Trusts we do not prepare electronic Wills. Our Wills are typed on heavyweight paper and signed, witnessed, and notarized by hand and placed in a binder to keep them protected and organized.
While we cannot create an electronic Will, we can use technology to help people with their estate planning needs. For example, we can send a questionnaire electronically and meet with clients via video or phone call. Then, we meet in person to get the documents signed and witnessed. Using technology, we can make the estate planning process easy and efficient.
While electronic Wills are currently not legal according to Georgia law, that is not to say that we may not someday see a change in legislation regarding these matters. There is growing a push to legalize electronic Wills, and it is already happening in some states. Colorado, North Dakota, Washington, and Utah have already adopted the Uniform Electronic Wills Act (2019), a model legislation put forth by the Uniform Law Commission allowing for digital or electronic Wills. Meanwhile, Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Nevada, and Illinois have all enacted their own electronic Will legislations. While these types of statues are still in the minority among the states, we may one day see a change to our own laws here in Georgia.
For the time being, however, know that in Georgia your Will must be a physical paper document. If you'd like to learn more about estate planning, click here to download our free Guide to Estate Planning in Georgia. If you're ready to state your planning, give us a call at (678) 344-5342.