These days, people do nearly everything online— from communicating with friends, to paying bills, and even signing contracts. However, not every aspect of our lives will be making its way into the digital world — at least not in Florida. In June, Governor Rick Scott shot down the Electronic Wills Act, which would have allowed for wills to be digitally written, signed, witnessed, and even notarized.
About the Act
Drafted by willing.com, the Act was set to go into effect in July 2017, before being vetoed by Scott. It laid out guidelines for legally creating a final will and testament online. Once written, the will was to be signed the same way one would sign a contract online: with an electronic signature.
Of course, witnesses are required to be present when a will is signed, and the Act would have permitted these witnesses to be virtually present for the signature from a remote location. This would have involved the use of a live video for witnesses to communicate with the other parties. Additionally, these witness would had been required to fit the same legal requirements as those who witness a will-signing in person, and would have been permitted to appear remotely only if the person signing the will had not been deemed vulnerable. A Florida probate attorney or a notary would also need to be present, whether remotely or in person.
It is with these areas of the Act that Scott took issue, stating the process would not sufficiently authenticate the identities of those involved, specifically the notary. He also raised concern over the potential for nonresidents to use Florida as a venue for probate law through this process, which he says could overwhelm the state’s court system. Furthermore, others have expressed concern that threatening actions off camera could be hidden from the witnesses, as well as the attorney or notary.
What the Future Holds
In his response, Scott noted that the matter merited further research from the Legislature. Thus, it seems that the possibility for implementation of electronic wills is not off the table in Florida. If executed correctly, the process could become simplified.
If you have questions about creating a will in Florida, call a Florida probate attorney at Graham Legal today to learn more about the process. We’ll guide you through it from start to finish, and ensure your rights are always protected.