The COVID-19 pandemic led to a lot of changes in court systems and estate planning around the country, largely due to the inability of individuals to make in-person visits to courthouses. Several states, including Colorado, created new legislation to keep legal processes flowing during the pandemic with virtual solutions. One estate-planning innovation in Colorado is the Uniform Electronic Wills Act, which allows individuals to create wills and trusts electronically. Find out if this process is right for you.
What Is the Colorado Uniform Electronic Wills Act?
The Colorado Uniform Electronic Wills Act is a bill that passed in the 2021 regular session. It states that an electronic will is a will for all purposes of Colorado law. In other words, a will (or trust) created electronically will be viewed as a legally valid and binding will for all legal intents and purposes in Colorado. The Act also specifies requirements for evoking, executing, attesting and revoking electronic wills. These requirements include:
Two witnesses must sign or acknowledge the electronic will in the physical or virtual presence of the testator. The testator must also sign.
The witnesses who sign the electronic will must be U.S. residents and physically located in the U.S. when the will is signed.
The electronic will must include a self-proving affidavit that is created in the physical presence of an authorized individual or the electronic presence of a notary public.
The law makes it possible for wills to be created, signed, witnessed and notarized electronically. It also allows for the certification of a paper copy of an electronic will. The Uniform Electronic Wills Act went into effect on January 21, 2021. In the year since the act was finalized, thousands of Colorado citizens have made use of the new law to create electronic wills and trusts without having to set foot in a courthouse. However, this solution may not be the best choice for everyone.
Is an Electronic Will or Trust Right for You?
Electronic wills and trusts became part of estate planning law in Colorado mainly due to challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial law, House Bill 21-1004, set a deadline on the ability to create an electronic will of December 31, 2020. With the passing of the Uniform Electronic Wills Act, however, these electronic documents have found a permanent place in Colorado law. House Bill 1004 created a long-term modernization solution to estate planning in Colorado by keeping the provisions of HB 21-1004 indefinitely. So far, Utah is the only other state to adopt similar electronic will legislation.
It is important to review both options – traditional vs. electronic wills and trusts – with an Denver estate planning attorney before creating your documents. Creating an electronic will or trust can come with advantages for some but drawbacks for others. For example, if you have a complex estate, creating your will or trust online using available software programs might not be right for you. You may need more in-depth assistance from an attorney or estate planner. Working with a lawyer to create your will is also important if you have questions about this legal process, such as which type of trust would benefit you the most.
Making the wrong choices when creating a will or trust can have a major impact on your family’s future, so it is important to get it right. While an electronic will or trust may seem tempting, as it may be less expensive and more convenient than taking traditional routes, it might not be worth it in the long run if it leads to the creation of a will or trust that does not suit your needs, accomplish your goals, or protect your estate and loved ones. If you cannot meet with an attorney in person due to your health or the pandemic, find a Denver will attorney who offers virtual consultations and services for assistance.