Foreign Language Translation and Electronic Wills

We’ve blogged about language translation and finding intent in a foreign language will. Although the legal professional as a whole suffers from has been dubbed the “Gultenberg Paradigm” – or having a preference for the written document, things are slowly staring to enter the digital age. However, in one particular field of practice this change is raising some interesting issues. That area is the law of trusts and estates where the writing requirement remains an essential component to a testator’s ability to create a will.

The State of Nevada was one of the first states to adopt legislation giving testator’s the option to create digital or electronic wills via audio tape or videotape. Although the Nevada statute has many problems, particularly as to how an electronic will can be made, it does open the door to the larger need for expanding the methods available to a testator. However, as wills move away from writing and into the digital realm, the issue of foreign language interpretation will change. If a written will is testified to in a foreign language, a foreign language translation is readily made. In all likelihood, this same process will be applied to electronic wills, although the process will involve a foreign language translation/interpretation of the recording.

Source: University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, Vol. 42, No. 105, 2008

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