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Illinois and the future of wills: electronic documents and remote witnesses

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2023 | ESTATE PLANNING - Estate Planning

As technology advances, Illinois has kept pace with the times by adopting laws that allow for electronic wills and remote witnesses. This technology is crucial for modern estate planning and administration, enabling individuals to create and execute their wills from their homes without needing in-person witnesses.

Electronic wills

Under Illinois law, an electronic will is a document created, executed, and stored electronically. To be considered valid, an electronic will must meet specific requirements, including:

  • Will is in writing
  • Signed by the testator
  • Witnessed by at least two physically present people

Remote witnesses

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois has temporarily allowed the use of remote witnesses for the execution of wills. This change means that, for a limited time, the two required witnesses can observe the signing of an electronic will remotely rather than being physically present.

For remote witnesses, the following conditions must be met:

  • The testator must have the electronic will open and visible on a device (such as a computer or tablet) during the signing process.
  • The testator must affirmatively acknowledge that they are signing the will and intend for it to be their final will.
  • The two required witnesses must observe the testator signing the will and must sign the will themselves, either electronically or by handwritten signature.

Estate planning

Estate planning – estate administration & probate using electronic wills and remote witnesses is helpful. However, while electronic wills and remote witnesses are convenient options, they aren’t suitable for everyone. Consulting an estate planning attorney to determine the best course of action for your specific situation is vital.

Overall, using electronic wills and remote witnesses in Illinois is a testament to the state’s commitment to modernity and flexibility. As with traditional wills and witnesses, carefully consider your options before making decisions.