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An effort to allow electronic wills is dead this session

Mallory Noe-Payne
Radio IQ

The pandemic moved a lot of modern life online. Writing a last will and testament is not one of those things, at least in Virginia.

The idea that you need to be in an actual brick and mortar lawyer's office to write a will seems like an outdated law, says Senator Suhas Subramanyam of Loudoun County.

"I work with companies where they are completely remote at this point, and we sign off of our contracts on Docusign and other services that are completely online," Subramanyam says. "And I think with 12 other states already doing this it makes a lot of sense."

But the lawyers in the General Assembly weren't so sure. Here's Senator Mark Obenshain, a Republican from Rockingham County.

"Son is standing behind the computer going, 'Doesn't have to say anything,' but putting that kind of squeeze and pressure on that vulnerable adult to do this," Obenshain says. "There are just certain things that ought to be done in a lawyer's office."

The Senate rejected the bill that had already made it out of the House of Delegates, so wills will be crafted in a lawyer’s office for now.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.