Video recording a Will Signing or other Event

Video recording a Will Signing or other Event

By: Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, JD

Should You Video Tape Your Will (or other important) Signing?


Money Matters Radio – Estate Planning Checklist





"To videotape, or not to videotape," the question first posed in William Shakespeare Esq.’s legal brief “Hamlet”. Should you videotape your will signing?


Consider the following items?

Will it Help: Assess the risk from using a video whether an heir or anyone else seeking to challenge your will be able to use the video to prove you were not competent to sign, or that you were influenced in appropriately. Even if you’ve won an Oscar it can be nerve wracking for anyone to know a camera is recording such an important and personal final event. Remember a video records the bad as well as the good.

Whose doing the video taping? Hey if Uncle Joey is the videographer, and his last epic was Sally Mae’s 2nd birthday party, think twice. A poor quality home video can raise lots of issues. Better Choice: Have your estate attorney advise you how to orchestrate the videotaping.

Forensic Psychologist: A forensic psychologist might be called who magnifies portions of the video and explains how certain twitches or sweat indicates that you were pressured into the statement, etc.

How Often has Your Lawyer Videotaped Will Signings: How often does your attorney video record will signings or other matters? If recording is rare, that might be a signal to someone seeking to challenge your will (or whatever other matter was recorded) is that your lawyer was concerned that perhaps you did have an issue, perhaps you were not adequately competent..

What to Record: If you do opt to video record a will signing be sure the camera operator films the entire room showing:

·        Exactly who is in attendance.  This should include each witness, the supervising attorney, yourself and a notary.

·        Exactly who is not in attendance. Anyone who is a beneficiary under your will, or who could benefit from your will distributions, should be shown to be absent from the signing room.

It’s not Just Wills: You might opt to record other key legal documents (e.g., a prenuptial agreement), family meetings or events (to confirm the content of certain really important assumptions), an ethical will for your heirs, or other items. Remember, that if any of these touch upon contentious issues, clear the use of the video in advance with your attorney.

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