Electronic Wills: The Way of the Future?


A judge in Ohio recently ruled that a will written and signed on a tablet computer was a valid will, as discussed on the American Bar Association Journal website here. The case involved a man named Javier Castro, who needed a blood transfusion in order to survive his illness, but refused due to his religious beliefs. While in hospital, Javier discussed preparing a will with his two brothers. Since they had no pen or paper to do so, they decided to write the will on one of their Samsung Galaxy tablets. Javier signed the will on the tablet. The judge found that Javier’s will met the legal definition of a will in Ohio.

Of course, a precedent from Ohio doesn’t mean much here in BC, and at present the formalities required to create a valid will in BC do not allow for electronic wills. However, the new Wills, Estates and Succession Act (“WESA”) coming into force March 31, 2014 will bring us closer to the possibility of a will in electronic form being found valid. As we have discussed in recent posts, WESA gives greater discretion to the courts to cure deficiencies in the proper execution of a will. The court will be able to order any “record, document or writing, or marking on a will or document” be as fully effective as a valid will, if the court is satisfied that it represents the testamentary intentions of the deceased.  The definition of “record” in WESA includes data that is “recorded or stored electronically”. BC is the first jurisdiction in Canada to specifically contemplate electronic wills. It will be interesting to see how this power is interpreted by the courts and how the law around electronic wills develops in BC.