Can I Do A Video Will? (Is It Legitimate & What To Consider)
Hiring an attorney to write a will might seem like a lot of effort and money.
Isn't it easier to plop down, put on the camera, and film yourself stating your preferences for who should inherit your belongings or act as guardians for your kids?
It may be simpler, but it might not result in a legitimate will.
In most cases, a will must be written and signed to be legitimate. Most states require a will to be dated and witnessed by two people who saw you sign it and may subsequently testify that you looked to be of sound mind and acted of your own free will.
Unless your video will is written down, signed, and witnessed, it probably won’t be legally binding.
However, even if it isn't a legally valid will by itself, a video recording may be a handy tool when creating a will, particularly if you're worried about someone challenging your will after you die.
It may also comfort your loved ones, for instance, if you wished to explain why you decided to leave your possessions in the manner you did.
In this article, you will learn more about the legitimacy of a video will and creating a valid will.
Video wills are recorded declarations of a person's wishes for distributing their assets and can provide evidence of sound mind and intent in estate planning.
Video wills should only be used as a supplement to a formal, legally binding paper will, as state laws and guidelines must still be followed.
A living trust only covers property transferred in writing and cannot handle certain tasks such as naming a guardian or forgiving debts, whereas a will can.
What Exactly Are Video Wills?
Video wills are exactly what the name implies: filmed declarations of the testator stating their wishes for allocating their estate's assets.
These intentions often contain a description of assets, the beneficiaries to whom they will be distributed, and the name of an executor who will administer the estate through probate.
Getting the Will-Signing Ceremony on Video
Videotaping the will-signing ceremony or reading the will out loud on video might be beneficial for several reasons.
A video will may prevent allegations that you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs when you signed your will.
If you believe the provisions of your will could anger a close family member to the point that they may hire an attorney and fight your will in probate court, you need to take measures to prevent that unpleasant scenario.
Making a video of you and your witnesses signing your will is a handy strategy in these situations.
If the video shows that you are reasonable, understand the terms of your will, and are using the will to communicate your own intentions (rather than someone else's), it will go a long way toward preventing someone from suing later—or beating a claim if someone does challenge your will.
Someone attempting to contest a will must provide convincing proof that you were unaware of who your nearest family members were, were unaware of what you possessed, or were improperly influenced by someone seeking to benefit.
A video of you explaining your actions or behaving freely and autonomously might assist in disproving such allegations.
A video of the will signing ceremony may demonstrate that you carried out the will appropriately.
Your will is only legal if you sign it per the formalities established by your state's law.
In some states, there must be two (or more) adult witnesses present, you must inform them that the paper is your last will and testament, and they must sign it.
Many states need you and the witnesses to sign the paperwork in the same room.
A video of the witnesses watching you sign and subsequently signing the will for themselves is good evidence to have in the event of a dispute.
Explaining or Adding to Your Estate Plan
Damaged feelings and disagreements are sometimes the outcomes of a surprise in a will or trust.
For instance, if children anticipate getting equal parts of their parents' inheritance but do not, or if a more distant family member receives a greater share at the cost of a child, there may be conflict.
You do not have to explain your decisions—your belongings are yours to do with as you wish—but a recording can be a simple and effective way to do so.
For instance, if you wish to leave a larger portion of your assets to one of your kids because you've already given the others cash to help them purchase homes, or if you want one kid to act as executor, you should specify this.
With a video will, your children will not be kept in the dark about your behavior, which may avoid some arguing.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of a Video Will
Let's look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of a video will.
A video will might help you avoid accusations that you were not of sound mind or were unfairly influenced when you signed your will.
A video will be useful if someone is dissatisfied with your will and chooses to employ a lawyer to fight it.
The film may also include footage of you and your witnesses signing your will. In such an instance, it proves that you were rational, aware of the contents of your will, and expressed your intentions.
A video may be used to enhance your formal estate plan. A video will, for example, allow you to name one of your children as executor.
If you wish to go into further detail, a video might convey how you want your family to divide up precious goods.
Although you may use your video will to specify how your family should disperse treasured belongings, your desires are not legally binding.
That is, your video will not be accepted by a probate court, a bank, or any other organization with assets under your name.
Only a formal paper will is legally binding.
Videos do not stick around forever and are, therefore, susceptible to damage or deletion.
If you choose a video will, think of it as an addition to a formal, legal paper will prepared by an estate planning attorney, and keep the following guidelines in mind:
Make use of a high-quality camera that can clearly identify your face.
Speak clearly and loudly, with as little background noise as possible.
Maintain a medium close-up on the video-captured region.
The video cannot be modified and must include any technical data required to play it again.
Some states require you to be sworn in by someone legally authorized to administer oaths.
Any court officials must identify themselves on camera before delivering the oath.
Before relaying your final desires and the recorded names of your beneficiaries, mention the recording's date, time, and location, as well as the names and addresses of the will's witnesses if they are not present at the taping.
The video should continue uninterrupted.
Finally, remember that a will, whether written or recorded, is not your sole estate planning option. Various trusts may also assist in ensuring that your fortune is distributed following your preferences.
A living trust is a legal document in which you leave your property to whomever you choose.
The benefit of a living trust is that property assigned through a trust doesn't have to go through probate after you die, saving your family lots of money and time.
But even if you create a living trust, you should still have a will.
A Living Trust Will Never Include Everything You Own
One important reason to prepare a will is that a living trust only protects property you have transferred to the trust in writing.
Very few people give their whole estate to a trust.
Even if you meticulously transfer everything, there's always the possibility that you'll acquire property just before you die. It will only pass under the trust's provisions if you think to (or are unable to) transfer ownership to your living trust.
A Will Can Do Things That A Trust Cannot
A will can do several vital tasks that a living trust cannot.
For example, in many jurisdictions, naming a guardian for young children—someone to raise them if you and the other parent die before they reach adulthood—requires the use of a will. You are unable to utilize your living trust.
A will may also be used to forgive (cancel) debts due to you, something a trust agreement cannot accomplish.
What are Nuncupative Wills?
It is worth mentioning that only a few states permit oral wills (also known as nuncupative wills).
Nuncupative wills are sometimes known as deathbed wills. This refers to circumstances in which the testator communicates their bequests and intentions to witnesses, generally because they do not have the chance to prepare a written will.
A video will might be acceptable in places that recognize nuncupative wills if it fits all of the other conditions of the state legislation.
These conditions, however, are often quite restricted and detailed and normally demand that the testator dies within a certain amount of time after drafting their spoken will. While it is feasible, meeting all regulatory criteria, including the time limits, would be tough.
The video will is more likely to be used as a backup or complement to a written will, proving that the testator was rational and free of influence.
Related: Do Wills Expire? 6 Things To Know
Consult an attorney if you are contemplating a video will since state rules might change to reflect trends.
A video should only support your written will, which should always qualify as legal.
An attorney can update you on any changes in state law and ensure that your will is drafted correctly.
How Can Trustworthy Help?
Trustworthy can help you keep your will and living trust documents safe.
When you sign up for Trustworthy, you get access to a secure server where you can upload and share your important estate planning documents. Your family and friends will never have to worry about the location of your paper documents when they can easily access them online.
Save your family time and money in the event of your passing by registering for a free 14-day trial with Trustworthy today.