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Let’s take the following example: Alice is a web developer and she is in her 20s. She owns a business and some properties, bank accounts, Cryptocurrency wallets etc.

She wants to write her will so, in case of an eventual death, she makes the things clear and eventually share the PIN numbers, passwords etc to her will executor(s).

Would it be possible to write and authorize the will at a lawyer office but to not writing in the will the steps to follow regarding her properties but, instead writing them down in a easily-changeable format/annex?

That would easily allow Alice to change the percent of money she wants to donate to charity after her death etc, without modifying the actual will document but simply editing a file on her computer and reprint it and sign it eventually.

Does this concept exist? And would it work?

The idea is to allow a young person, who doesn’t expect to die yet, to decide easily what should happen with their stuff after an unexpected death, but these changes being made easily, not through a lawyer.

I am imagining something like this: the will mention the document printed and signed by Alice:

In addition to what was mentioned above, the executor will follow the steps mentioned in the signed document kept securely in the secure box.

When Alice will make any changes in this document, she probably wants to notify her executors, but not needing to notify her lawyer, since the actual will document is not changing.

Another example would be that at 20 years of age, she will write in that document that she wants to be cremated and her ash to be put in the ground, but at 23 years of age she adds that the ash should be put in the ground and also plant a tree. Maybe at 26 she updates the piece of paper and says: part of the ash should be put in the ground and plant a fig tree, and the other part in a river.

At 30 she may want to add that 10% of her money should go to a charity helping kids with some kind of heart disease that she would have had and was cured. At 31 she buys a small land and decides that after her death that small land should be donated to the church she was part of.

Now, for all these little or bigger changes, she won’t have to notify the lawyer but because the will was already written mentioning this signed document kept securely, she would just have to change this printed document every time and sign it.

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    I don't think that sharing PIN numbers, passwords, etc in a will is the correct way to achieve the outcome of the executors being able to manage Alice's accounts. Her executors would then, in effect, be 'impersonating' Alice from the point of view of the bank/whatever. The correct way would be for the executors to present the bank with a power-of-atterney and/or death-certificate or something along those lines, so that the bank knows that Alice is deceased and XYZ executor is now (legally) managing the account. – brhans Apr 11 at 19:37
  • @brhans That could be another question I guess. That’s a good point regarding traditional banks, but in case of crypto wallets things are a bit more difficult. I am not sure about PayPal, but anyhow, the question is not primary about sharing the credentials, but about changing some after-death actions, without changing the actual will document. – Ionică Bizău Apr 11 at 23:47
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You are describing an amendment to a will (codicil), which is generally possible, but has to satisfy the same formal requirements as a will. There may be some variation in what are valid notarial or holographic wills, but what you propose is not valid for a will anywhere that I know of, under current law (almost, but not quite). See this, for a statement of will requirements in Germany. It totally fails the requirements of a holographic will which must be entirely handwritten and signed by the testator, and you cannot notarize a computer file.

The law is set up this way so as to guarantee that what is executed is actually what the testator wanted, thus there are strong requirements to establish authorship encoded in the law. A possible implementation would be to not just print the codicil, but also get the signature properly notarized (this assumes that the document has an identifiable relationship to the will). But also check local law regarding codicils / amendments.

The situation in Romania is not easy to interpret. It is governed by Codul civil al României, starting with Article 1.034. The applicable testament-type is "authentic" (Art. 1.043-1.046), which is a more ritualized version of notarization (the testator must read the document to a public notary, must at the end declare that the act expresses his last will, and then there is the signing by testator and notary; it must then be registered). Section 3 covers revoking a will; Art. 1.052 says

Testatorul poate revoca testamentul olograf şi prin distrugerea, ruperea sau ştergerea sa. Ştergerea unei dispoziţii a testamentului olograf de către testator implică revocarea acelei dispoziţii. Modificările realizate prin ştergere se semnează de către testator.

This seems to only apply to holographic wills (you decide). It does seem to allow a provision to be revoked by deleting a part of the testament, but that would have to be on the fully handwritten document, thus not consistent with your scenario. It is not clear how Romanian courts would dispose of an "authentic" will plus changes (even if properly dictated to a public notary, signed and registered).

There are ways in the US to avoid some of this hassle, via a Transfer on Death designation, but that circumvents wills entirely. I can't find any evidence that such a device exists in Romania.

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    You are right that she will need a lawyer or someone to witness the actual will, but placing money in accounts and just referring to the account in the will solves that, because you can change what is in each account without changing the will. – Putvi Apr 11 at 20:45
  • I updated my question making it a bit clearer. I also added the Romania tag just in case things would be different there. – Ionică Bizău Apr 11 at 23:55
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If properly constructed and executed, such a will should be possible in Australia

The various Succession Acts in each state and territory make provisions that apply unless "a contrary intention appears in the will." A will that provided that dispositions were to be made in accordance with the latest version of Document A on GitHub repository Y (with a residual provision in the will) should comply with the law.

The courts in Australia have a wide discretion to give effect to the testators intentions even if the strict requirements for making a will have not been satisfied. For example, in Re Nichol the court accepted that an unsent text message (so obviously unsigned and unwitnessed) was a valid will.

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Would it be possible to write and authorize the will at a lawyer office but to not writing in the will the steps to follow regarding her properties but, instead writing them down in a easily-changeable format/annex?

Generally speaking, a will does not contain that level of detail. Most decisions regarding the disposition of individual properties are left in the discretion of the executor.

More often, dollar amounts or percentages or general types of assets are left to particular people, and the decision regarding how to accomplish this is reserved for the people dealing with the situation as it actually is at death.

When Alice will make any changes in this document, she probably wants to notify her executors, but not needing to notify her lawyer, since the actual will document is not changing.

At 30 she may want to add that 10% of her money should go to a charity helping kids with some kind of heart disease that she would have had and was cured. At 31 she buys a small land and decides that after her death that small land should be donated to the church she was part of.

Now, for all these little or bigger changes, she won’t have to notify the lawyer but because the will was already written mentioning this signed document kept securely, she would just have to change this printed document every time and sign it.

In U.S. jurisdictions that have adopted the Uniform Probate Code, there is a concept called a memorandum of disposition. The will refers to the existence of such a document and it lists items of tangible personal property and the person who is to receive them, and is then signed and dated without witnesses or notarization. In the U.S. this is limited to tangible personal property and this is allowed only in a minority of U.S. states.

I believe, but do not know, that this was an idea copies from an Australian state.

To my knowledge, no European country has an equivalent provision.

Instead, any changes to the content of a formal will would have to be done in a notarized codicil (i.e. "amendment") to the existing will, or by revoking the existing will in its entirety and writing a new one.

Honestly, this is much easier to do now than it used to be, with the magic of word processors, but each codicil and new will would have to be witnessed and notarized just as the original will was.

Common law jurisdictions also have documents known as revocable trusts that are used as will substitutes. These can be amended with fewer formalities than a will (typically just a notarized signature without witnesses). But, these kinds of trusts are unavailable or rare in countries outside the common law legal tradition.

In part, revocable trusts have no arisen in non-common law countries because the process of settling up the affairs of a decedent is done mostly non-judicially with the counsel of a notary who is a trained legal professional in those jurisdictions who is also an official record keeper of various kinds of important legal documents eliminating concerns about authenticity and the capacity of the people who signed the documents, to a great extent. In contrast, in the U.S. the probate process necessary to implement a will or adjudicate the estate of someone who died without a will, is very expensive and time consuming in some states and involves pervasive court oversight.

So, civil law countries didn't have the practical need and desire to avoid probate that is common in civil law jurisdictions.

Another example would be that at 20 years of age, she will write in that document that she wants to be cremated and her ash to be put in the ground, but at 23 years of age she adds that the ash should be put in the ground and also plant a tree. Maybe at 26 she updates the piece of paper and says: part of the ash should be put in the ground and plant a fig tree, and the other part in a river.

Provisions regarding the disposition of one's body at death are not generally included in the will itself. Disposition of someone's body and the conduct of the funeral typically takes place within several days or at most a couple weeks after a death, with planning usually beginning within 24 to 48 hours after the death is discovered. But, this is insufficient time to be sure that one has located the official will to be located and authenticated, and for any dispute regarding the will's validity to be resolved.

More often, a separate document, often drawn up with the help of clergy from the person's church, or with the help of a funeral home director, specifies the disposition of a person's body and their funeral wishes.

In many jurisdictions this document has no legal force and the ultimate decision is vested in the next of kin or the executor. In other jurisdictions, there is a separate document in addition to the will that has legal force and is often executed with similar formalities. I do not know the relevant rule for Romania. Either way, the decedent's next of kin usually honor those wishes whether they were binding or not, out of moral obligation, and it isn't as if the dead person has an ability to complaint if they don't.

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You can say bank account, stock portfolio, trust (or whatever applies in the situation) number X goes to this person and account or portfolio y goes to another, or something along those lines, in the will. That allows you to change the amount that is in the accounts without changing the will itself.

If the money was in one pool, you would have to specify which parts go to which people with the lawyer, but if you have the money in separate accounts or portfolios, you simply give each separate account to separate people.

Another way to accomplish this is to use percentages. If all the money is in one pool you can say 50% goes to this person and 20% to that person.

Really, any way that clearly identifies what your intentions are is fine, but the separate accounts thing is just a common method and is incredibly easy.

  • My apologies for whatever is wrong with this to make someone downvote lol. :) – Putvi Apr 11 at 19:44
  • Not my downvote, but if the question is about "steps to take regarding her properties", suggesting separate accounts isn't really an answer. – Tim Lymington Apr 11 at 21:08
  • I get what you mean, but you can include the properties in a trust. – Putvi Apr 11 at 21:12

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