Wills in the Cloud – The Pros, Cons, and Inevitability of Electronic Wills

Wednesday, August 28, 2019, 1:00-2:30pm EDT


Roundtable Moderator: Vanessa L. Kanaga, Esq., President and Director of Content Development, InterActive Legal

Roundtable Panelists:  Prof. Gerry W. Beyer, Sandra D. Glazier, Esq., Bruce Stone, Esq., and Suzanne Brown Walsh, Esq.

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Four states now permit (or will in 2020) some version of an “electronic will,” and the Uniform Electronic Wills Act drafted earlier this year is likely to bring the concept to other states sooner rather than later.  It appears inevitable that we as estate planners will need to address the issue of electronic wills and perhaps incorporate them into our practices, even if we may be reluctant to do so.  To embrace this challenge, InterActive Legal has put together a panel of experts on the subject, moderated by our president, Vanessa Kanaga, to debate the pros and cons, and highlight important issues involved with electronic wills and the various electronic will laws.

Panelists will appear by live video to debate predetermined questions. Additionally, if time permits, questions will be taken from the audience. Each panelist has written or spoken on the topic of electronic wills specifically, and will bring their varied opinions to the Roundtable.  Topics we’ll cover include:

•  A discussion of the background of electronic wills and existing jurisprudence (that is, how we got here!)

•  A debate over what the panelists see as the pros (yes, there are some!) and cons of electronic wills

•  Technical questions about how to authenticate electronic signatures and prove identity, and how electronic will statutes address these challenges

•  Going paperless – electronic storage of the electronic will, and what that means for estate plan updates and the eventual probate

Don’t miss this chance to get ahead of this change that will impact – and ideally benefit – your clients, as state laws continue to catch up with technology.

Our Roundtable Moderator

Vanessa L. Kanaga, Esq., President and Director of Content Development, InterActive Legal ^

Vanessa Kanaga joined InterActive Legal in 2013 and serves as President and Director of Content Development. In her role, Vanessa oversees the development of InterActive Legal program content, in addition to working with CEO, Michael L. Graham, to guide the company in its future direction, and manage day-to-day operations. Vanessa received her J.D. from Cornell Law School, Magna Cum Laude, in 2006, and holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Wichita State University, with a minor in Music, as well as an Advanced Professional Certificate from New York University School of Law. Following law school, Vanessa practiced in New York for several years, at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, LLP, and then Moses & Singer, LLP. In 2012, she returned to her home town of Wichita, Kansas, where she was an associate attorney in the estate planning and probate practice group at Hinkle Law Firm, LLC, before joining InterActive Legal.

Meet the Panelists

Prof. Gerry W. Beyer, Texas Tech School of Law ^

Professor Beyer is nationally recognized expert in estate planning and holds the Governor Preston E. Smith Regents Professorship at Texas Tech School of Law.  He researches, writes, and teaches in the areas of estate planning, wills & trusts and property, and has authored more than 22 books, 35 law review articles, 30 other significant works, and 300 continuing legal education articles. A few of his current scholarship interests include (1) planning for the transfer of and access to a person’s digital assets, both when the person is disabled and upon death, (2) studying the impact of legalized recreational and medical marijuana on estate planning, (3) exploring the potential of including photographs of items a person wishes to give away in his or her will, (4) helping communication challenged clients plan their estates, and (5) investigating professional responsibility and ethical concerns that arise in estate planning.

Prof. Beyer is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the REPTL Reporter, the official journal of the largest section of the State Bar of Texas, the Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section with distribution to over 9,000 members. He is also an Academic Fellow and Regent of the American College of Trust & Estate Council, a member of the American Law Institute, and has been inducted into the Estate Planning Hall of Fame. From 2010 through 2017, Prof. Beyer has made more than 200 presentations coast-to coast by accepting invitations to share the results of his research at seminars and symposia for national, state and local bar associations, universities, and civic groups. On almost a daily basis, Prof. Beyer provides free advice to attorneys working on pro bono or reduced-fee cases.

Sandra D. Glazier, Esq., Lipson Neilson P.C. ^

Sandra D. Glazier is an equity shareholder with Lipson Neilson P.C. in its Bloomfield Hills, Michigan law firm office. Sandy concentrates her practice in the areas of family law; probate litigation; estate planning; and, probate and trust administration.  With over 35 years of experience, she has handled a multitude of complex cases in the probate litigation arena, representing parties in some of the largest estates subjected to litigation in Michigan.  Her experience includes, but is not limited to, complex litigation relating to claims of breach of fiduciary duty, will and trust contests, and claims of undue influence or lack of capacity.

Sandy has presented on estate planning and probate litigation issues at Bloomberg BNA Estate and Gift Tax Advisory Board, Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute, Kansas City Estate Planning Symposium, ABA, WealthManagement.com., Institute for Continuing Legal Education (ICLE), OCBA, STEP-Orange County, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Annual Estate, Tax, Legal & Financial Planning Seminar and Wilmington Trust’s New York Trust Symposium.  She is the author of Electronic Wills: Revolution, Evolution, or Devolution, Tax Management Estates, Gifts and Trusts Journal, Bloomberg Tax.

Bruce Stone, Esq., Goldman Felcoski & Stone P.A. ^

Bruce Stone is a shareholder in Goldman Felcoski & Stone P.A. in Coral Gables, Florida.  His practice consists primarily of estate planning for both domestic and foreign clients.  A significant portion of his practice involves disputed or complex problem situations in which he is retained to find creative planning solutions or to serve as expert witness, mediator or arbitrator. Bruce graduated from the University of Florida with high honors and the Florida State University College of Law with highest honors.

Bruce is a Fellow and Past President of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. He is a past chair of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of The Florida Bar and chair of the Joint Editorial Board for Uniform Trust and Estate Acts, which monitors and recommends updates to the Uniform Probate Code, the Uniform Trust Code, and all other trust and estate related uniform laws on a nationwide basis. In addition to his practice, Bruce is an adjunct professor at the University of Miami School of Law, where he teaches in the graduate masters program in estate planning. He is a frequent lecturer for organizations such as the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, the American Bar Association, ALI-CLE, the Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning, and the Florida Bar.

Suzanne Brown Walsh, Esq., Murtha Cullina LLP ^

Suzanne Brown Walsh is a partner in Murtha Cullina LLP, where she represents clients in the areas of estate and tax planning, particularly for families of children with special needs, elder law, estate and trust administration, trust modifications and trustee changes.  Suzy is nationally known for her speaking and writing, including the Heckerling Institute on Estate Planning, the Southern Federal Tax Institute, and numerous regional organizations throughout the country.  She is a member of the Connecticut Bar and holds a B.S. degree from Boston University and a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School.

Since 2005, Suzy has served as one of Connecticut’s Commissioners on Uniform Laws.  As such, she represents the state as a member of the Uniform Law Commission, a national organization which promotes statutory uniformity. She is presently a member of the Joint Editorial Board for Uniform Trust and Estate Acts, chairs the ULC’s drafting Committee on Electronic Wills, and is a member of the Drafting Committee on Fundraising Through Public Appeals Act.  Previously, Suzy chaired the ULC’s drafting committees for the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (2015), the Amendments to the Uniform Principal and Income Act (2008), as well as a study committee on Mental Health Advance Directives.  In addition, Suzy taught Estate Planning and Taxation at the University of Connecticut Law School, and is an ACTEC fellow.

CLE Credits

InterActive Legal is not an approved Continuing Education Sponsor. However, several states and regulatory agencies for a variety of professionals that participate on our teleconferences may still receive continuing education credit for their participation. If a participant wishes to receive CE credit for their participation in these teleconferences, they must apply to receive credit on their own and through their individual states and regulatory authorities. It is the responsibility of the participant to file for CE credit and is not guaranteed by InterActive Legal.

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