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E-wills offer convenience but may have risks

Many Nevada residents understand the importance of preparing a will. Thanks to the Uniform Electronic Wills Act, residents of this state can execute a will electronically. Some analysts predict that other states will adopt the same legislation in the future.

Individuals who live in states where preparing a will online is not possible often feel frustrated. They understand how important it is to have a will, but they feel like needing to visit an attorney in person is too expensive or inconvenient. Many other tasks can be accomplished via the internet, so they wonder why it's not possible to execute a will or perform some other estate planning tasks online.

The ability to electronically create and execute a will online adds a certain level of convenience. The process typically involves the estate owner creating a document using an online form, engaging in a video chat with a notary and then receiving an electronic form from the notary. The will can even be stored online.

While there are benefits to e-wills, probate litigators see some potential risks. For example, they worry about issues regarding the exercise of undue influence or coercion when signing a will. The elderly are especially susceptible to undue influence. It is not unheard of for caretakers to coerce elderly individuals or people with a lack of mental capacity to leave all of their assets behind to them. This issue could be made worse with e-wills.

Another area where electronic wills may leave the door open for future litigation has to do with disinherited heirs. Many have seen the benefit of meeting in person with an attorney and having witnesses present when signing a will. The attorney may be able to help prepare a valid will and answer questions regarding the estate administration process, asset valuation and inheritance tax.

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