Florida is leading the way in estate planning as a new bill is revolutionizing the way Floridians execute their last will and testaments. The Florida Legislature passed House Bill 409, which allows for electronic wills and electronic signatures starting January 1, 2020. Like a traditional will, an electronic will must be signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses. An electronic signature is defined as “an electronic mark visibly manifested in a record as a signature and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.”
Witnesses may be present via audio-video communication technology. Audio-Video technology is defined as “technology in compliance with applicable law which enables real time, two-way communication using electronic means in which participants are able to see, hear, and communicate with one another.” Will FaceTime be the future of will execution ceremonies?
The new law does impose some stipulations including the supervision of a notary public and special protections for “vulnerable adults.” Additionally, the new law provides for electronic wills to be made self-proved by providing for safe keeping of the will by a qualified custodian. A qualified custodian is a wholly new concept the bill introduces as a means of protecting and ensuring the integrity of the will. Florida is one of only a handful of states to embrace technology in this manner and it will be very exciting to see how these changes improve our current system.