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Florida legislators considering electronic wills legislation

Technology helps us capture the first moments of life and if some Florida legislators have their way, it will be a part of leaving life as well. Two bills before the state House and Senate would make electronic wills legal in Florida.

An electronic will would be much like a will committed to paper, except that it would be an electronic document signed electronically by the testator and witnesses and then notarized. The witnesses and notary would have to be in Florida at the time, though they could be in different parts of state (one in Cocoa and another in Coconut Creek, Destin, Miami or any other Florida location) as long as they're connected by live video.

The testator (the person making the will) doesn't have to physically be in Florida at the time, but would need to state that he or she understands that the document is executed according to our state's laws.

The electronic will would be kept by a qualified custodian: someone who isn't an heir, but is a resident or is incorporated in Florida. And the custodian would need to have an electronic records-keeping system in place.

The custodian would have to provide to the testator at any time copies of the electronic will plus a paper copy of the document.

A Florida estate-planning attorney far from us in Cocoa writes that a Miami-based company is pushing for passage of the electronic wills legislation.

No one yet knows the fate of the proposed bills, but we do know that people who want to plan their estates and talk over their options and understand the implications of estate-planning choices will speak with a lawyer experienced in crafting wills, living wills, health care directives, revocable and irrevocable trusts, powers of attorney and more.

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