We’re living in an increasingly digital world. Instead of newspapers, we read internet news sites. We use GPS instead of maps and the number of people using e-readers has skyrocketed. Even traditional estate planning is being affected. Digital asset inventories are becoming more common and even electronic wills have been proposed. As you work on your Palm City estate plan, you may have questions about whether electronic wills are an option in Martin County.
A traditional Will in Palm City is written or typed on paper. The testator signs the Will using a pen, as do the witnesses and notary public. The Will is executed by the testator and both witnesses in the presence of each other in the same place and at the same time.
An electronic Will exists as a digital record. The testator may sign by typing his or her name or using a digital signature. Witnesses and an attorney or notary participate in the will signing but may not be required to be in the same room with the testator and instead may participate by video.
In 2017, the Florida legislature passed the Florida Electronic Wills Act. The Act, as written, would have allowed:
The Bill as passed also set forth requirements regarding video and audio quality, the preparation of a transcript of the Will signing, and the proper storage of the electronic Will. It also required the notary seal on a self-proved Will to be included with the notary signature.
Citing concerns about fraud and exploitation, Governor Rick Scott vetoed the Act on June 26, 2017. Specific issues with the Act included the difficulty in authenticating identities of the parties involved and safe storage of the Will. Also, if a testator signed a Florida electronic Will while domiciled in state that does not allow electronic Wills, the testator could be considered intestate.
Are electronic Wills going to be legalized in Florida? Maybe, but there are concerns. Having a qualified estate planning attorney prepare a Will and participate in the execution provides an extra layer of protection and validation of the testator’s intentions and state of mind.