Florida faces an interesting crossroads as two separate bills that may deeply impact estate planning protocols go before legislators. Under the new bills, Florida would recognize electronic wills in estate planning.
Before you go tearing up your physical will, it is important to note that the new law sets several requirements for an electronic will to be recognized as valid. Firstly, an electronic will must still be signed (electronically) by the testator while in the presence of two witnesses, and the witnesses must also sign the document (electronically) in the presence of the testator.
However, because we are living in the new digital age being “in a person’s presence” may not actually mean that the individuals are physically in the same place. The new law would allow testators and witnesses to be in each other’s presence, legally speaking, if they are communicating through live video or audio communication, such as Skype or some other video chat service.
It is also worth noting that the law would allow a person to create a will intended to operate within Florida while not physically having to be in Florida to do so. Using video communication, an individual could state his or her intentions to execute a Florida will and the wishes would be recognized. Of course, in all cases, if any video communication was used, the video footage would need to be saved for future review.
The times are changing, but the underlying principles remain much the same, and they are not getting simpler. Although electronic wills may seek to simplify some elements of the estate planning process, the issues at hand in estate planning remain as complex as ever. If you are considering creating or updating your will or estate plan, do not hesitate to seek out the guidance of an experienced attorney to ensure that your rights remain secure.
Source: WealthManagement.com, “Florida Electronic Wills Act,” Craig R. Hersch, April 03, 2017