Video Wills: Too Good to be True

Astonished Florida attorney David A. Shulman recently wrote on his blog about a sales pitch from a company that provided the paid services of "video wills," without the company providing any explanation that such videotaped wills are entirely inadmissible in Florida. 

That is, one cannot avoid the legal requirements for the execution of a valid will simply by saying on a video that they want Daughter Susie to have the house and Son Bobbie to have all of the personal property.  You must conform with the applicable statutory requirements.  

Accordingly, video wills are not an option – certainly not in Florida, nor in Washington or Oregon, where I practice.   (ORS 112.235:  "A will shall be in writing….."RCW 11.12.020(1) "Every will shall be in writing….")

Additionally, as a fiduciary litigator, let me caution against videotaping the execution of a handwritten will.  It may be seen as a way to ensure the person signing the will has the capacity to do so, and has not been unduly influenced to sign the document.  However, such evidence has the potential to backfire if the person signing the will makes an unusual statement or presents a mannerism that a judge or a paid expert could review – without knowing the person well – and find it as evidence to overturn the will.