By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Last Will & Estate Planning Attorney

I was asked this very interesting question (the title of this blog) but having done no research at all on the subject I had no idea of the answer. So, you ask, can a person do a video and have it qualify as a will? In other words, when a person takes a video of himself outlining what he wants done with his estate once he/she dies, can that video be used as a substitute for a written will? It’s a great question, so let’s see.

The answer is “no”! The requirements for a Will are set forth in NJSA 3B:3-2. The law requires a document, either (a) in writing, signed by the testator, as witnessed or acknowledged, or (b) a holographic Will (a writing intended as a Will, if the signature and material portions of the document are in the testator’s handwriting).

Still, I’m fascinated why a properly authenticated video cannot be accepted for probate (under a legal theory to be determined). But until a case comes out permitting a will by video, I’ll not recommend one in lieu of a written document. It’s not worth being a test case to a client. Perhaps this is a matter to be explored by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and/or the NJSBA Real Property, Trust and Estate Law Committee.

To discuss your NJ Last Will & Estate Planning matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.