Online wills allowed in Florida

There’s really no reason not to have a will, especially in the tech age. Thanks to Florida lawmakers, a person can either write a will on on piece of scratch paper or craft an online will that is still considered legal and valid in the state. It’s best to have an estate planning attorney help you out with either, though.

Let’s look at electronic wills. The Florida Electronic Wills Act allows someone to craft a will using an internet service. With the state having the largest number of seniors and retirees in the country, the act was hailed as a way to make things easier for people to get their final affairs in order.

And it does. The law requires several steps to prevent fraud, including electronic signatures of the person whose will is being created, as well as two witnesses. Two people are required to sign a paper will under state law.

Under the Florida Electronic Wills Act, the testator and witnesses must be together when they sign. Starting next year, it can be done via Skype or FaceTime.

Here’s how it reads in statute.

“Under current law, traditional wills and living wills generally must be signed by the principal to the instrument and by witnesses. The bill allows these individuals to sign, witness, and otherwise fulfill their duties while in different locations by using video conferencing and other technology. An electronic will may be stored by a “qualified custodian,” which must be capable of storing an electronic will, and must store electronic records of electronic wills, including documents related to the execution of an electronic will. The bill substantially regulates qualified custodians and includes several consumer protections for testators who choose to employ a qualified custodian.

In addition to electronic wills executed in this state, the bill grants the courts of this state jurisdiction over electronic wills that are executed by nonresident testator’s according to the Act or according to the laws of the testator’s state. During probate proceedings, the bill expressly permits the admission to probate of the electronic will or its ‘true and correct copy.’”

Keep in mind, an internet service cannot ensure your assets and wishes are protected. Even if you choose to draft an electronic will, you should seek the advice of an experienced estate planning lawyer who will make sure you are covered, legally and personally.

Our experienced and trusted estate planning attorneys have been serving Treasure Coast families for decades, and Michael Fowler is one of only nine attorneys in the state of Florida who is double board-certified in wills trusts and estates and in elder law.  Contact us for your initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.