There are countless ways to connect and communicate with people today. We can send emails and texts, direct message someone on Facebook, send a letter through the mail or just pick up the phone and make a call.
While these are all effective ways to get a message to someone, they are not exactly sounds when it comes to sharing legal information. For instance, if you want to create a will or make end-of-life decisions, the way to do that is in a traditional legal document. If you opt for another route, you may not have the legal protection you think you have.
For instance, a recent article from Mashable described a case where a man had texted his brother, mentioning that in the event of his death, he wanted his mother to receive a portion of his estate. However, that did not happen after he passed away.
Despite the mother’s argument that he had made his wishes known in the texts, the courts dismissed her claim. The judge stated that unless wishes were in writing, dated and signed, they were invalid.
While this specific case occurred in France, similar rules apply here in Florida. Statutes order that wills must be in writing, signed by the testator (or person creating the will) in front of witnesses who also must sign the will.
In other words, sending a text, an email or chat message will likely not suffice when it comes to protecting your estate planning wishes.
Even if you have unconventional wishes or assets, they warrant protection through traditional measures. This means properly creating a will. Should you have questions about the validity of your planning documents, you can discuss them with an attorney.
Understand that failure to take these steps to protect your wishes can put your loved ones in a difficult position of having to fight for what they feel you would have wanted. To avoid this, make sure that you not only put your wishes in writing, but that you also do so in a legally enforceable and valid document.