Dos and Don’ts when Filming a Video Will

by M-Gillies
Female director holding clapperboard

Lights, camera, action! Make sure you do it all in one take when videotaping a will. Editing is not allowed.

Video taping a will is often considered an alternative means of preventing a will from being contested in court. It shows that the testator is of sound mind when he or she bequeaths their estate and assets and generally shows the testator signing the will to further validate its authenticity.

However, not all states recognize video wills as valid, so it is important to understand the local laws in your area and to further ensure the legitimate use of the video will, it is recommended that it be followed by a written will.

When filming a video will the following procedures should be performed:

1. It is important that the quality of the video camera can clearly identify the testator’s face. Speak clearly without distortion and keep the video captured area at medium close-up. The video cannot be edited and is required to be submitted with any kind of technical data necessary to play back the video will.

2. In order for video wills to be admissible as a will, the testator must be sworn in by a person authorized by law to take oaths. While this is only required in some states, it is important to confirm this process before making a video will.

Prior to administering the oath, the officer of the court has to identify themselves on camera.

3. The opening statement by the testator should begin with him or her identifying themselves, giving their place of residence, declaring that they are of sound mind and that this recording and accompanying hard copy if necessary, supersede any previous wills.

It is recommended that the testator mention the date, time and place of the recording prior to recounting their last wishes and the recorded names of their beneficiaries.

When a written will is accompanying the video will, the testator should mention the name and addresses of the will’s witnesses.

4. During the filming of a video will, the hours, minutes, seconds and date should be seen on the final image and while the video will shouldn’t be interrupted, if it goes past more than one tape, the end and beginning of one section of the tape should be announced.

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