News and Articles From the Law Office of Catherine Leas P.C.
Check out our news and articles below to stay up-to-date on important information. We’ve provided these resources because we believe it’s in your best interest to be as informed as possible.
Electronic Wills: Coming to Arizona Soon, But Not Too Soon.
The Arizona Electronic Will Statute was recently enacted by the Arizona Legislature and signed by Gov. Doug Ducey, but will not become effective until June 30, 2019. The Arizona law reflects the trend begun by the so-called “E-sign Act” enacted by Congress in 2000, which recognizes electronic signatures on a number of types of legal documents. The E-sign Act permitted the States to implement their own variations of the Act, but specifically excludes wills, codicils, or testamentary trusts. Recently, however, a number of States have been trying to implement their own electronic will legislation. In May of 2017, the Florida legislature adopted an Electronic Wills Act, but Governor Scott vetoed the Act after expressing the importance of finding “the right balance between providing safe-guards to protect the will-making process from exploitation and fraud while also incorporating technological options that make wills financially accessible”.
After June 30, 2019, in Arizona, a Will Maker, the Witnesses, and Notary will all be able to sign a digital document electronically, but they must all be physically present with the Will Maker at the same time just as is required now with an old-fashioned paper Will. Much of the law deals with keeping the Electronic Will safe. While an original paper Will is usually kept by the attorney, the Will Maker, or another trusted person, an electronic Will must be kept by a Qualified Custodian (QC). A QC cannot be the Will Maker, spouse, kids, anyone related by blood, marriage, or adoption to the Will Maker, or anyone named as a recipient under the Will. The QC must be able to keep electronic records in a system that protects the Will from destruction or alteration. The QC’s records must also include a photo of the Will Maker and the Witnesses on the date of execution, copies of the identifying documents (passports, driver’s license, etc.) and a video recording of the signing. If the QC is no longer able to serve as QC, there are particular requirements for finding another QC to maintain the records. Given the additional requirements to execute an electronic Will and the need for a QC to maintain the Will until the Will Maker’s death on a secured system, we will not know the practical effects of this law. We can only wait and see what happens in other States in the meantime.
The Difference Between a Do-Not-Resuscitate Order and a Living Will- More Than the Color of the Form
People often confuse living wills with Do-Not-Resuscitate (DNR) orders. Both are a type of health care directive that involves end-of-life decision making, but the similarity ends there. To best illustrate the difference between the two, imagine a scenario in which Emergency Medical Services are called to a residence because someone has fallen and lost consciousness. If the person has a DNR order on an orange background signed by the person or the person’s agent and also signed by the person’s doctor, and the EMS personnel are shown that form, the EMS services will not attempt any lifesaving interventions or treatment. If they are not shown a DNR, the EMS personnel will attempt to revive the patient with CPR and other interventions, and if they are able to stabilize the patient, they will transport the patient to the ER where the patient may even make a full recovery. If, however, after a period of time the medical team finds that the patient is not likely to regain any quality of life, then a living will provides the authority to withhold or withdraw life support measures. The living will provides the patient with a chance for recovery that the DNR would not have provided. This makes a DNR more appropriate for a person who is already failing and for whom intrusive life saving measures would do far more harm with little possible good.
Recommended Reading – not law related
During the 45-minute drives between my office and my Wickenburg home, I listen to Audible Books, and one recent book I finished was “Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World,” by Jack Weatherford. This book is a fascinating look at the rise and fall of the Mongol Empire of the 13th Century and describes how, once the Mongol Empire was established by conquest, the Khans turned to practical governance. They created the first known international mail system and established the first common currency utilized throughout the Empire which spanned most of Asia and reached far into what is present-day Europe. While extremely skilled and ruthless warriors, the Mongols were an essentially classless society in which people were valued primarily for their skills. As Emperors, the Khans employed people of all religions and spiritual practices and made sure that within their empire, no religion or spiritual practice was supported over another. In fact, the religious freedom that was a hallmark of the Mongol Empire was a stark contrast that of its neighbors, the Caliphates and the Roman Catholic Church-Empire. The same belief that government should not be involved in the religion of its people was implemented four hundred years later by the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, in particular, the First Amendment.