Many people believe that videotaped wills are more convenient than paper wills, but there are a lot of problems with this approach. In this video, California probate attorney Charles Triay discusses the problems with videotaped wills and whether they can hold up in court during probate proceedings.
A videotaped will in and of itself is not valid. If you make a videotape of me saying, “Hi, when I die, I’m leaving my estate to these two people over here,” that has no effect in the law. But, what often happens is we have a videotape either contemporaneous with the signing of a written will or about the same time and I am of the opinion that those videotapes usually hurt the person who made them. And I say that because they’re usually not done professionally. They’re usually done in an amateurish way with lots of obvious edits. I’ll give you a good example. We had a case down in Santa Barbara. Two sons were aced out and it was all left to their cousin. And the cousin came in with this videotape. And first of all, it didn’t have the timeline at the bottom and there were obvious edits. And then it starts out, “Okay uncle, as we were just discussing, now tell the camera what,” and we just laughed because it was obvious that he had been coaching his uncle as to what to say, and I see this over and over again. If you’re going to make a videotape, ask open-ended questions of the person making the will or the trust. Do not say, “Is this what you want? Yes. Do you understand that this is your will or trust? Yes. And you’re leaving it all to me? Right, right.” No, don’t do that. Say, “Okay, in your own words, tell me not only what you want to do, but why,” and then if the elder can express that, “I’m leaving this to one son and not the other because-,” then you have something. But, usually, the videotapes hurt the person who thinks they will help. For more information, call me at (888) 594-9733 or visit my website at TriayLaw.com