Beginning on August 1, 2023, Minnesota will become one of seven other states to allow wills to be completed electronically rather than in writing. Digital execution of a will coupled with the fact that witnessing and notarization of the will can also be done digitally sets the framework for testators to make their wills completely digitally.
Minnesota will soon allow wills to be finalized completely using computers instead of signing a paper copy. This is called digital execution and it means that people do not have to physically sign their will. It also makes it possible for witnesses and notaries (people who make sure documents are real) to complete their part online too. This law was passed by the House, Senate, and Governor Walz on February 9th, 2023, March 30th, 2023, and April 30th respectively. It will become active in August of 2023.
Support and Effect of the Uniform Electronic Wills Act (UEWA)
The UEWA was enacted to encourage more people to make a will. The UEWA will especially aid those in remote locations far from legal services or those unable to travel. The UEWA also modernizes Minnesota law to accommodate the digital world. The statute also solves interstate recognition problems.
Traditionally, wills were not enforceable unless they were in writing, signed by the testator, and witnessed by two other people. Now with the UEWA and current Minnesota law, a testator can execute their will completely digitally. The testator’s signature must be witnessed contemporaneously, either in person or remotely by use of electronic means. While a notarized signature is not required, Minnesota enacted the Revised Uniform Law on Notarial Acts in 2018; Minn. Stat. Sec. 358.645 provides a secure procedure for notarization by a remote online notary public.
Use of the Electronic Will after Execution
In August 2023, Minnesota will join seven other states in allowing people to make wills electronically instead of writing them down. It means that you can use digital tools and have witnesses watch you sign the will online or in person. This makes it easier for people who live far away from legal services or who cannot travel to make a will. The law also helps make sure that the wills are enforced across states. After making your electronic will, it is still a good idea to get a paper copy and store it somewhere safe, so your personal representative knows where to find it if needed.
Although this law will make it easier for people in rural areas with limited physical access to attorney counsel, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to go it alone. At Wagner Oehler, Ltd., we regularly meet with clients via Zoom or over the phone. Be sure to get the advice you need from experienced attorneys that understand not just the drafting of documents, we understand the repercussions of poorly drafted documents.