House passes bill allowing for e-signing of probate documents

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A bill that would allow testators to electronically sign their wills, trusts and powers of attorney documents has received approval from the Indiana House of Representatives.

The House on Monday unanimously passed House Bill 1303, which would authorize, but not require, e-signatures on probate documents. Testators would be able to sign those documents via computer technology if they are in the physical presence of least two witnesses who watch the execution.

HB 1303 was the result of a task force comprised of lawyers, judges and other legal stakeholders, Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, told members of the House Judiciary Committee during a Jan. 22 hearing on the bill. Frost Brown Todd estate planning attorney Jeffrey Dible noted the bill does not stipulate what type of technology must be used to electronically execute a probate document to allow for further development of the relevant technology.

However, the bill does provide for methods of verifying the identity of the testator to guard against electronic fraud. HB 1303 would require the executor’s identity to be verified prior to electronically signing a probate document, and evidence such as a government-issued identification, an authorization code or biometric information would qualify as identifying information.

Further, HB 1303 allows for the creation of a “complete converted copy” of a probate document in a portable, printable format. That copy must contain the text of the document and its electronic signatures.

There was no discussion before Monday’s vote on HB 1303, and the measure passed 95-0. It now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

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