Is it legal to record your last Will and Testament on video? To be enforceable, Wills must be in writing and preferably signed in front of at least two witnesses. A video alone, without a properly executed document, is rarely allowed. However, there are still appropriate legal reasons to video a Will.
When a parent disinherits a child, or an older gentleman leaves his entire estate to his young girlfriend, or an elderly lady leaves money to her cat, there is a good chance that the unhappy heirs may sue to dispute the Will’s validity on grounds that the testator lacked intent or that there was incompetency, mistake, fraud or duress.
If any of those grounds can be proven, the Will may be ruled null and void. Having a video of the signing procedure could prove that the testator was of sound mind and body, and provide an explanation of the reasoning for the bequests. The video would confirm the legality of the Will, and negate the need for a courtroom battle.
First, the testator’s attorney should determine if a traditional written Will alone can implement the testator’s intentions successfully. If recording a video is advantageous, then planning and preparation come into play. There is only one chance, so get it right the first time!
Important Caveat: A poorly produced or ill-advised video could backfire. If the disinherited heirs discover that a video was intended, but never recorded, that exposure alone could create an adverse inference that the testator had something to hide, and result in a long, expensive and unpredictable courtroom battle.
Lawyers’ Video Service has been videotaping Will Executions since 1979. Contact us for detailed instructions on how to do it!
The attorney is responsible for drafting an enforceable document that clearly describes the testator’s final wishes. If a will contest is still anticipated, then a video, explaining and reinforcing those final wishes at the execution ceremony, should help.
Consult with an experienced legal videographer (not an executor or beneficiary). Plan for the video record continuously, without pausing, until completed. Keep it concise and professional. Begin with an opening statement, then interview the testator, asking questions formulated to prove and clarify the bequests. Conclude with the Will being signed and witnessed on camera.
© 2016 Lawyers’ Video Service, Inc. by Michael J. Tabas, Esq.
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