Fully digital wills are now valid in several states and provinces. As such, it is increasingly common to find references to digital wills. It is logical because if most of the life of a modern person is documented online, then why not formalize last wishes in the same way? In this article, we will examine the controversial issue of digital wills with the help of estate planning lawyers from Westcoast Wills & Estates in Vancouver. Undoubtedly, probing digital intentions will be shared 30 years from now, but is it safe to have a digital choice now?

What Is Digital Will?

A will is a formal document that sets out your intentions regarding the distribution of your property and the care of any children still in your care after your death. If you pass away without leaving a will, your wishes cannot be fulfilled after you are gone. Additionally, after your death, your heirs may need additional time, money, and emotional energy to settle your affairs.

Unfortunately, nothing is eternal in this world. Our life is full of surprises and unexpected turns, many of which are often unpleasant. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you think in advance about the distribution of property after death and worry about drawing up a will.

Before we begin to consider the object of our article directly, it is worth finding out what types of wills are recognized by law. US inheritance law has several differences from established practices in Europe. For example, it is worth noting that a will can be drawn up in four formats:

  • Public or notary. In this case, the will is drawn up in written or oral form. In the latter case, the testator’s will is recorded by a notary or a judge. A mandatory requirement is the presence of several witnesses;

  • Secret. The testator writes such a will with their hand, after which they sign and put it in an envelope, which is sealed by a notary in front of two witnesses;

  • Standard. The testator draws a will in the specified form in writing. The presence of witnesses is a mandatory requirement.

Let us add that there is also a simplified procedure for drawing up a will. This opportunity is usually provided to sailors, military personnel, etc.

So, what category can we place a digital will in? At its core, it is a document compiled by a person using specialized software in written form. If you think about it, this type fits the definition of a written will. The only difference is the inability to put the document in an envelope, put a handwritten signature on it, or seal it. It is fully digital, never in paper form, and lives on a computer.

At first glance, this is a very convenient solution. However, most jurisdictions are still quite conservative and do not allow digital wills. Looking ahead, let’s say that they have some reasons for this. But at the same time, the idea of making a will in a calm environment on your computer is very promising. This option will make it easier for many people to make a will and allow them to take proper care of their property.

How It Works

You can make a will online on any number of online will websites. Increasingly, notaries and estate planning lawyers are offering digital wills as well. The exact same process is used to make a digital will as is used to make a paper will. The only difference is that at the end of the process, a conventional will is printed onto paper and then signed, whereas a digital will is signed and witnessed on the computer itself.

People with assets worth less than estate tax limits (both federal and state) and with relatively simple estates may find that creating wills online is an intelligent option. It is in your best interest to speak with a tax attorney if your estate may be subject to tax.

Stepchildren, remarriages, multistate property ownership, or small business operations may be potential problems that require the assistance of a specialized estate lawyer.

Is It Legal?

Digital wills can be legally binding if they comply with the laws of the jurisdiction in which they are used and are appropriately certified. Notarization standards may vary from state to state and province to province; in some cases, you may only need two witnesses to sign, and in others, you may not need an attorney. If you choose the DIY method, you should also be sure to use an online will writer with a good reputation and plenty of positive customer reviews.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Digital Wills

As we have already said, the digital expression of will seems ideal only at first glance. In practice, it has both strengths and weaknesses. Let’s get to know both sides of the coin.


The benefits of a digital will are apparent, so let’s start with them.

Speed of Procedure

The physical creation of a will can take a long time. An appointment with your lawyer may have to be booked many days or weeks in advance. To get to the final version, your lawyer must create several drafts.

Using a program or online resource will eliminate the need for most meetings and appointments. Most online services will provide a blank template to personalize your information. You’ll need to schedule an appointment if you want to do any customization, although you can do it virtually if you’re worried about finding time to travel to different offices.


The convenience of a wall lies in the ease of its storage and distribution. Probate documents must be physically delivered if executed in person. It can be a hassle to print out copies of documents and find a safe place to store them if you need to show them to someone else or send them along.

If you lose your paper copy or discover it has been altered, you can quickly and easily access your backup stored in the cloud. Even if you don’t need to make copies of your will to pass on to others, you can do so without much effort.

Low Cost

Physically preparing wills is typically expensive due to the time and effort involved. It means that you will need to pay legal fees, primarily if they are based on an hourly rate. Imagine scheduling several meetings with your lawyer for several days or weeks. You typically have to pay for every hour you spend with them. Long periods and hourly rates can quickly add up and become expensive.

It is more cost-effective to pay a flat rate for all services offered by most online will providers and some wills lawyers than to pay hourly.


Despite the apparent advantages, digital will has several disadvantages, which we will now discuss.

Potential for Fraud

The issue of confirming the legality of a will in digital format remains open. Regular documents can be signed, but modern technology provides loopholes for forgery. This is a major problem with digital wills. What is still needed is the development of advanced and reliable methods for identifying the originator and authenticating a document.

Potential for Undue Influence

As you know, having witnesses helps not only prove identity but also confirms that the willmaker is acting of their own free will and is of sound mind. A digital will does not provide this option. We can’t rule out the opportunity that the person was forced to draw up a document or was unaware of their actions. You must always find out who is behind the screen on a Zoom call.


Different states treat digital wills differently. In some regions, this is a legal way of expressing intention, but digital documents are not valid in others. Thus, having made a will in one state, you can move to another, where it will lose its legal force. Since the future cannot be predicted, and you can change your place of residence at any time, this jeopardizes the execution of your will.


Drawing up a will is an essential and responsible matter. In the past, making a will required physically going to a lawyer’s office nearby. However, this is changing due to the proliferation of technology and the growing need for ease of service delivery. It has led to the creation of wills that can be signed and accessed online. Be sure to check your jurisdiction’s laws in this regard. The cost of error, in this case, is very high, so it is better to play it safe. Finally, remember that a will is an ever-evolving document; more than simply composing it is required. It is essential to review your choice from time to time to ensure that it continues to accurately reflect your wishes in light of life changes such as having children, getting married, or getting divorced.

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